Philippines under 'second wave' of COVID-19 - expert

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2021 05:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 24 2021 06:09 PM

Catholic devotees attend Mass outside the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Parańaque City on March 24, 2021 as the National Capital Region plus adjacent provinces were placed under general community quarantine with stricter restrictions, which prohibits mass gatherings from March 22 until April 4, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is facing a "second wave" of the COVID-19 pandemic, an expert said Wednesday, as the number of coronavirus infections is rising rapidly.

Based on the epidemic curve, the country is experiencing this month another peak of virus cases, which can be considered a "second wave," said Dr. Jomar Rabajante of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team. 

"I consider this as a second wave because we could have suppressed the surge if we had several interventions," he said in an online forum organized by AGHAM - Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.

"For example, if we have an early rollout of the vaccine. Second, if we were careful in reopening the economy. And, if we were better prepared on the presence of new variants."

In the first wave, daily cases peaked at 6,958 on Aug. 10. It jumped to 8,019 on March 22, its highest since the start of the pandemic.

Rabajante, however, noted that wave is not a technical term in the field of epidemiology and experts may have different interpretations.

An official of the World Health Organization earlier said that the recent spike in cases could not be considered a second wave because the first wave has yet to be flattened.

Courtesy of AGHAM - Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

 

In his report, Rabajante also noted the Philippines has recently tallied its highest number of active cases, which is at 86,200. It surpassed the Aug. 15 record of over 83,000 active infections.

"In the 2021 increase, it can be considered dense compared to last year, which means almost every day or every week there's a continuous increase," he said.

Rabajante is a professor of mathematics and dean of graduate school at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

Half of the active cases, he said, are found in Metro Manila. It is followed by Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Cagayan Valley.

Many of those who have contracted the virus also belonged to the working age group, Rabajante said. Those who succumbed mostly to the disease were older people with underlying conditions.

In his analysis, Rabajante noticed increased mobility in people in late December as many went to grocery, pharmacy, parks and those offering retail and recreational services. 

If testing, contact tracing and isolation efforts are sustained, he predicted that the country's COVID-19 tally could reached 882,000 by year-end.

Current infections stood at over 677,000, with more than 578,000 recoveries and nearly 13,000 fatalities. To date, over 400,000 out of 1.7 million health workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

To arrest the resurgence of new cases, the Philippine government placed the capital region and 4 neighboring provinces under stricter quarantine measure for 2 weeks.