Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: May 21, 2020 08:12 AM GMT
A security guard watches a shopper exit a disinfection channel at a Manila shopping mall. The Philippines’ health minister has sparked controversy by claiming the country is experiencing its second Covid-19 wave. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)
The Philippines’ health minister has been accused of sowing public alarm and confusion after declaring the country was experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Most people thought the country was still experiencing a first wave because Covid-19 infections were continuing to rise amid a shortage of testing kits in the country.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on May 20 that the first wave of the pandemic occurred from January to February when health experts quarantined three Chinese nationals who tested positive for the virus.
The Health Department recorded the first case when an asymptomatic Chinese national from Wuhan was diagnosed in a Manila hospital after experiencing mild coughs. Her partner died a month later due to complications caused by the coronavirus.
Duque’s comments about a second wave were criticized by health experts who said the pandemic infection curve had yet to be flattened.
“The first wave [of the virus] came when we had the first lockdown. We have not yet flattened that curve. A second wave happens after that curve is flattened,” said Dr. Anthony Leachon, an adviser to the Inter-Agency Task Force against Covid-19.
Opposition lawmaker Carlos Zarate also criticized Duque’s statement, accusing him and the government of “playing tricks” with the people.
“Is this administration taking us for a ride? Is a second wave coming or is it true we are already on the second wave?” the lawmaker asked in an interview.
He told the government to stop concealing the true situation from people when it is the masses who are struggling in the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Filipino Jesuits were mourning the death of their former superior general Adolfo Nicolas, who died on May 20 as reported by UCA News.
Father Nicolas served in the Philippines for 10 years after being appointed director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute at Ateneo de Manila University.
Former Philippine Jesuit provincial Father Danny Huang described him as a “wise guide, humble servant, inspiring witness of the freedom and joy of the Gospel, a beloved brother and friend.”