"We all agree that we need to increase our capacity for testing."
It might seem funny for some that we’re having this debate whether or not we’re already experiencing the “second wave” of local COVID-19 epidemic. Unfortunately, this is not helping the cause of stemming the further spread of the deadly disease.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque became the butt of jokes when he said that what we have been coping with since March to the present is actually the second wave of COVID-19.
Duque explained that the “first wave” consisted of the initial cases of the three Chinese tourists from Wuhan, China who travelled in January to Cebu City, Dumaguete City and Manila, and turned positive for COVID-19.
With the continued influx of tourists into the country despite the developing global pandemic, the COVID-19 cases constantly went up, particularly in Metro Manila, until President Duterte cancelled his domestic tourism promotion in Boracay island on March 12. Instead, he decided to announce a state of public health emergency.
And that’s when the “second wave” set in – when confirmed cases of infection breached 500, according the DOH officials, two weeks into the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine..
Both Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and National Task Force COVID-19 head Sec. Carlito Galvez have expressed reservations about Duque’s statements, causing more confusion about where the country is now in the fight against COVID-19.
If anything, the implication of Duque’s belated revelation is that the DOH officials failed yet again to publicly disclose the factual status of the health crisis situation in a timely fashion, as they failed to admit massive under-reporting of cases of possible cases of infection.
It means we could have taken measures as early as late January during the “first wave” of COVID-19 to prevent its spread if the DOH officials had duly apprised Malacañang of the pandemic threat. We were led to believe that it was all contained then, until government officials got themselves tested first.
On the very day the Metro Manila lockdown was imposed, foreign tourists – including 26 Koreans from Daegu City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in South Korea – arrived.
As of 4:00 PM Wednesday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 13, 221, with 842 deaths, the highest in the Asian region. There is a notable total of 2,932 recoveries.
On a reassuring note, however, Duque confirmed that a flattening of the epidemiological curve has been established, attributing the findings to epidemiologist Dr. John Wong of the Department of Health (DOH) despite a backlog of over 6,000 in test results.
But whether we're on the second wave or even third wave, the bottom line is the specter of this killer disease’s resurgence remains.
We all agree that we need to increase our capacity for testing be it barangay-based mass testing or the so-called expanded targeted testing, and then get more of those sick people treated before a fourth or a fifth wave comes.
The DOH officials must be observe transparency and be straightforward about the COVID-19 situation.