With many countries now seemingly in control of the COVID-19 pandemic, attention is turning to a potential ‘second wave’ of the virus. But what does this actually mean?
The Spanish Flu pandemic that began in early March 1918 lasted for around two years. But it was the second wave of the virus during three especially cruel months in the fall of 1918 that proved to be the deadliest.
It raises questions about whether there will be a second wave of COVID-19.
Now the easiest way to picture a second wave is to think of waves on the sea. The total number of infections goes up and then down, until the next wave comes along and the process begins all over again.
To say that one wave has ended, the total number of infections needs to fall substantially. If we were then to see a significant rise once more, it would be safe to say that we are experiencing a so-called second wave.
Health officials in South Korea believe the country is now experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Despite being one of the success stories of the pandemic, officials are now bracing for potential restrictions for several more months.
While global lockdowns have had a profound impact on economies and people’s lives, lifting them too much and too early could lead to a second wave of COVID-19. That’s why any easing will come in stages and contact tracing and wearing face masks could be the new norm for a while. Hopefully, with effective social distancing measures and frequent handwashing, a second COVID-19 wave can be averted. However, what actually happens remains to be seen.