MANILA - Strict social distancing measures are essential to give the Philippines enough time to respond to the number of cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) once the pandemic peaks in the country, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country may peak from 70,000 to 75,000 cases within 3 months, based on modelling forecasts.
"We are trying to estimate when it's going to peak, how much cases would there be when it peaks, so mayroon na ho, iba iba ho ang sinasabi na numero...The estimate is at 70,000, 75,000 in the next three months," she explained.
"But ang sinasabi natin, ito po ay modelling estimate. Kumbaga, we are trying to forecast para lang po makatugon tayo ng mas maayos," Vergeire added.
She said there is a need to implement strict measures, such as the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, to "flatten the curve."
"So that we can flatten that curve, we can flatten 'yang peak na 'yan... Lalapad po siya, tatagal po pero mas bababa ang kaso at mas makakaresponde ang ating sistema," Vergeire said.
"We like to flatten the curve so that we can respond properly," she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the Philippines under a state of calamity to enable government to respond better to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
The state of calamity is effective for 6 months unless the President lifts it earlier or extends it further.
The President also asked all government agencies and local government units to mobilize all of the necessary and available resources to undertake measures and “eliminate the threat of COVID-19.”
Law enforcement agencies, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are meanwhile directed to ensure peace and order in affected areas.
The Philippines has so far confirmed a total of 187 cases of COVID-19, a pandemic that earlier prompted Duterte to declare a state of public health emergency, and place the main northern island of Luzon on lockdown to contain the spread of the disease.