IATF epidemiologist warns ‘3rd wave’ of coronavirus after lockdown

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The epidemiologist of Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases said on Wednesday that there could be a 3rd wave of infections after the government lifts lockdown on May 15.

Dr. John Wong, who is also the founder of health research institution Epimetrics Inc. and a member of the task force’s subtechnical working group on data analytics, said the first wave of the outbreak happened in January when the country first recorded its COVID-19 cases which are all Chinese nationals.

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Wong, the second wave is the current coronavirus outbreak that already infected over 10,000 Filipinos and foreign nationals staying in the country.

The epidemiologist also said Tuesday that the Philippines had flattened the curve after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a lockdown for nearly two months.

He said the country’s coronavirus data gathered from 10 to 14 days ago showed “the curve has already flattened.” Wong noted that one of the indicators of this claim is the longer doubling time of new cases and COVID-19 deaths.

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Wong said the government should implement a phased lifting of quarantine protocols after May 15 to stop the of coronavirus infections.

Preventing 3rd wave of coronavirus infections

“To prevent that third wave, we have to observe all the mitigation measures, like physical distancing, hand hygiene, frequent cleaning,” Wong said.

“We can’t say that we’ve won the battle until we have a vaccine. But at least for now, we’ve been able to control the outbreak and buy time for the health system to increase its capacity,” he said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, urged the people to cooperate with the government as the country’s fight against the pandemic continues.

“[T]he threat to our health remains. We may be better prepared, but without a cure, vaccine, or if we do not follow our health protocols, we could go back to where we started,” Vergeire said in her online press briefing.

“We are confident that we can implement a response to another outbreak that is safe and effective. Let us be mindful of each other. The way we choose to behave out in public in the coming weeks could save lives,” she said.

As of April 6, DOH reported 10,004 confirmed cases, 658 deaths, and 1,506 recoveries in the country.

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