As world grapples with COVID-19, fear of second-wave looms large 

WION New Delhi Mar 30, 2020, 11.12 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore have seen a sudden spike in cases.

COVId-19 cases are rising even as the world is grappling to contain the virus. There's already a new fear -- the fear of the second wave. 

Is the coronavirus returning to countries which have controlled the outbreak? Can you be infected twice? How do you insulate yourself?

Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore have seen a sudden spike in cases.

Is this the second wave?

A pandemic comes in waves like a curve. The numbers rise and then there is a plateau, followed by its slide. In some cases, another curve follows. 

This is what we call a second wave. In some countries, coronavirus has declined. For example, China while in some they are on the rise. The United States for example. And in some, new cases are emerging after a lull. This has triggered a new fear. 

Expert opinion is divided. Some say the second wave could be because of faulty tests and imported cases. Wuhan in China is a textbook example. The city is no longer under lockdown. And all of a sudden, new cases are emerging. At least 5%-10% of the city's patients who recovered are testing positive for the second time. Experts say this is not re-infection, but faulty testing. They were wrongly tested the first time. 

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As this American virologist points out, either the swab did not pick up enough material or it was mishandled during the testing process. So patients were discharged based on faulty test results. They tested negative but were carrying the virus. Another reason is imported cases. Asia has seen a sudden spike in numbers. Reports say it will be hit hard by the second wave. Hong Kong has been largely successful in controlling the outbreak.

The city-state declared a virus emergency on the 25th of January. It restricted links to mainland China. Reported its first death of February 4th. And then just 3 more deaths over the last month. Positive cases have been limited to 642. But now, Hong Kong is witnessing a second wave -- thanks to citizens returning home. The imported cases are powering Hong Kong's second wave. The same is happening in South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

The second wave is coming. A re-infection is possible but it does not happen in a matter of weeks. It takes years for immunity to fade. The second wave of the coronavirus is not about re-infection. It's about faulty testing and imported cases. And finally. The need of the hour is testing.