MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Wednesday that his fist-pumping congratulations for beating predictions on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic was meant for the people and not government.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday said the country "won" against the University of the Philippines' projected 40,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of June. Two senators and some social media users criticized Roque, saying UP is not the enemy.
"Maraming hindi na-gets (many didn't get it)... I was congratulating the people, not the government's efforts because in the end, it's the people who will determine how fast the disease will spread," Roque told ANC.
"I think we should continue to encourage the people to try to beat the forecast of how much COVID-19 cases we will have," he said.
The Philippine lockdown, one of the longest in the world, has cut down the time that it takes for cases of COVID-19 to double to 7 days, a "far cry" from the 3-day rate in March, said Roque.
The fatality rate is also down to 10 per day while the positivity rate or the percentage of those who test positive for the virus is at 6 to 7 percent, which is below the international threshold of 12, he said.
He also denied that the backlog of tests is at 9,800, pegging this figure instead at about 1,000.
"It's a small victory, but still a victory which means that with behavioral change, we can prevail over the disease," Roque said. "We are not as powerless as we think against the disease, even if there is no vaccine and there is no cure as of yet."
The Philippines COVID-19 tally could breach the 60,000-mark by the end of July, a UP study said. — With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News