Without even flattening the curve, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday claimed that the Philippines is now facing the “second wave” of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection, declaring the first three cases in January as the first wave.

During a Senate committee of the whole inquiry, Senator Win Gatchalian asked Duque about the possible  worst-case scenario for the country, considering that the government has eased the lockdown even if the government had yet to conduct mass testing.

“Secretary Duque, para sa ’kin papunta tayo sa isang napakalaking problema – lumalabas na ang tao, at wala pa tayong malawakang testing. Ano ang nakikita ’nyong worst case scenario dito? Dahil hindi natin na-take advantage ’yung ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) na mag-testing tayo eh. Ngayon lang natin ginagawa ’yun,” Gatchalian said.

“Actually nasa second wave tayo. ‘Yung first wave nag-umpisa, batay po sa ating mga batikang epidemiologist, na ang first wave natin happened sometime in January—noong nagkaroon po tayo ng tatlong kaso ng mga Chinese nationals from Wuhan,” Duque revealed apparently referring to the opinion of Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics, Inc., who is with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) subtechinical working group on data analytics.

In a May 7 DOH online briefing, Wong said that country was already on the second wave of the outbreak.

“Yun po ay kinikilalang first wave, maliit lang na wave ika nga. Pero ngayon nasa second wave tayo at ginagawa po natin ang lahat para nga ma-flatten ‘yung epidemic curve,” Duque added.

“Pero ngayon nasa second wave tayo at ginagawa po natin ang lahat para nga ma-flatten yung epidemic curve at para nang sa ganon ay magkaron po tayo ng sapat na panahon na mapaunland ta maitaas ang ating kakayahan sa sistemang pangkalusugan. Ramping up the health system’s capacity,” Duque further defended.

Duque on Tuesday said that a “third wave” of COVID-19 infection could have a worst impact for Metro Manila if it will be placed under general community quarantine without enough testing.

However, both Duque and Wong did not say when the first wave ended and when second wave began and what parameters were used to determine the timeline.

In an interview over at CNN Philippines, Dr. Ted Herbosa, medical adviser to the National Task Force on COVID-19 said the first wave may still be ongoing.

“There are some scientists who are saying we just pushed the first peak farther, that means we bought time. And as soon as we opened up, the peak will go up,” he said.

“So some even say this is still the first wave just delayed by about 50 days of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),” he added. “The other thing is that we’ve already flattened it and the peak will happen from external sources, other sources.”

Medicine.net defines second wave as “a phenomenon of infections that can develop during a pandemic”.  It happens when a disease infects one group of people first. The infections would appear to decrease but it would then increase in a different part of the population, resulting in a second wave of infections. (RJ Espartinez)