MANILA - The Department of Health and medical professionals should be more prudent in declaring another wave of COVID-19 infections, an infectious disease expert said Thursday.
Benjamin Co, chief of infectious diseases of pediatrics at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, made the remark after Health Secretary Francisco Duque drew criticism for saying that the Philippines was now facing a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
"To me, making an absolute statement of certainty about second waves is unwise...I think we need to be more prudent when we describe second waves or third waves, because it can cause more psychological problems," he told ANC.
"We’re already in a situation where a lot of people are not really comfortable being locked down for a certain period of time, so we try to choose the terms that the public can understand hopefully much better instead of using terms that are generally more frightful."
A second wave would mean government placed measures to flatten the first wave of 3 cases earlier in the year, which it did not, according to Co.
"What were the measures instituted by health authorities so that first wave would not go into a second wave? We wouldn’t be here in this scenario had they put something in place after the first 3 cases," he said.
"To me I don’t think those first 3 cases cases are the first wave. This has to go down first. There should be, well not necessarily flattening of the curve, but you will need to see the number of cases go down significantly."
The Philippines is in a "good" situation if the number of daily COVID-19 cases the health department is reporting is within a 72 to 96-hour window, Co said.
"If the data that’s being provided daily by DOH are almost within a 72-hour window then we’re good. It’s actually good news," he said.
"Regardless of the terms, this is the more important curve (wave) that we will have to bend at this point."
The Philippines as of Wednesday recorded 13,221 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,932 recoveries and 842 deaths.
Co also lauded government's attempt to increase the country's capacity for coronavirus testing.
"We were really incapacitated at the beginning of the ball game. Now we have at least 35 testing labs," he said.
"Moving forward, how many are they able to do so that not all laboratories are overwhelmed? We have to take into consideration also the capability, the manpower. They cannot make mistakes."
As of May 14, the Philippines can conduct 9,000 coronavirus tests virus daily.