Duque: Philippines now on second wave of COVID-19 outbreak

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2020 03:09 PM | Updated as of May 20 2020 08:01 PM

Shoppers observe physical distancing implemented by malls during its partial operation under the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila on May 17, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines is now on the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.

"Actually, nasa second wave tayo," Duque told senators in a hybrid hearing.

(Actually, we're now on the second wave.)

"'Yung first wave natin nag-umpisa, happened some time in January noong nagkaroon tayo ng 3 Chinese nationals from Wuhan," he said.

(The first wave started, happened some time in January when we had 3 Chinese nationals from Wuhan.)

He was referring to the first batch of infections detected here, all in patients from Wuhan City, China, where the coronavirus pandemic began. 

In a May 7 DOH online briefing, Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics Inc. also said that the Philippines was already on the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Wednesday afternoon, Wong, who is also a member of the sub-technical working group on data analytics of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, explained that the second wave started during the first week of March.

Wong explained that experts define outbreak waves as “when there’s a rise in cases and then a decrease in cases.”

After the first wave, there was a “lull,” he said, explaining why the three cases are still considered a wave despite the small number.

After a “very quiet” February, he said, “Then we had our 2nd wave, which was the 1st major wave of more than 10,000 cases.”

He said the peak of the current wave was on March 31 when the Philippines reported 538 new cases.

Data from DOH. Graph from ABS-CBN Data Analytics

Wong said the country is now at the “lower part” of this 2nd wave with the new cases averaging at 220 per day.

Duque earlier warned that a third wave of cases may be possible if Metro Manila abruptly shifts to general quarantine. 

Last Saturday, the capital region and other at-risk provinces shifted to a more relaxed modified enhanced community quarantine, with more businesses reopened to revive the economy. As of now only the cities of Cebu and Mandaue remain under a strict lockdown. 

As of May 19, the Philippines has confirmed 12,942 COVID-19 patients. Of those infected 837 have died while 2,843 have recovered. - With a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News