COVID-19 curve flattened? Duque meant health system 'prepared', says aide

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2020 10:46 AM | Updated as of Jul 16 2020 11:22 AM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III speaks updates lawmakers on the country's pandemic response, March 11, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III meant to say that authorities "were able to prepare our health system" for a potential spike in cases of the novel coronavirus disease when he said that the country had flattened the disease curve, an aide said Thursday.
 
Flattening the curve "is really quite difficult to interpret and explain" because this depends not just on whether or not COVID-19 cases are increasing, but also on the health care capacity and the time it takes for cases to double, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

"When we say that we have flattened the curve, we were able to prepare our health system just in case there will be a surge or increase in the number of cases in the country," she told ANC. 

"When the Secretary said this, he was really meaning that we were able to prepare our health system and it's quite evident right now that we have increased our testing capacity. We have established a lot of quarantine facilities already, we have upgraded our hospitals," she added. 

Several hospitals over the past few days reported full occupancy of their coronavirus wards. Some private hospitals committed to increase their COVID-19 capacity, Vergeire said. 

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Duque said Wednesday that the Philippines "successfully flattened the curve since April." Hours later, he said that what he meant was a lull in cases during April following a Luzon-wide lockdown which began mid-March. 

"Hindi naman talaga flatten. 'Yun ang ibig sabihin kong ilinaw. Lumiko, hindi po flatten. Nagkamali ako doon at 'yun ang gusto kong linawin," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(It wasn't flattened. I want to clarify that. It got bent but not flattened. I made a mistake there and I want to clarify it.) 

Local COVID-19 cases recently increased due to ramped up testing, breaches in health protocols, and community transmission of the respiratory disease in some areas, said Vergeire. 

It currently takes about 8 days for the COVID-19 cases to double and authorities expect this period to shorten, she said. 

The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed 58,850 coronavirus infections, of which 36,260 are active cases.