Philippines unlikely to flatten coronavirus curve in July or August: UP expert

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2020 09:02 AM | Updated as of Jul 17 2020 09:21 AM

COVID-19 cases may hit 80,000 by month-end

Policemen patrol a community in Navotas City on July 15, 2020, the eve of a 14-day lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Philippines is unlikely to flatten the curve or cut down the number of new COVID-19 cases in July or August, an expert from the University of the Philippines said Thursday.

The country is experiencing a "surge" in the rate of people who test positive for the pathogen. About 2,000 new COVID-19 cases are reported daily out of some 20,000 tests per day, said Guido David of the UP Institute of Mathematics.

The reproduction rate of the virus, a way of rating a disease's ability to spread, is at 1.7 percent in Metro Manila. This is higher than the 1.1 percent reproduction rate in the central province of Cebu and affects the spread of the disease in neighboring regions like Calabarzon and Central Luzon, he said.

UP researchers expect cases of COVID-19 to reach the 80,000 to 85,000-mark by the end of July, based on the disease's transmission rate and doubling time, said David.
 
"Mabilis pa iyong trajectory [ng COVID-19]. Iyon ang goal natin (pag-flatten ng curve), pero hindi pa mangyayari iyon sa July o August," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

The Philippines might flatten its coronavirus curve "maybe by September" if its new pandemic protocols work, including localized lockdowns and ramped up isolation measures for patients, he said.

The extension of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila "will help" flatten the curve by limiting the movement of its 12 million people, including asymptomatic carriers of the respiratory disease, he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier this week said the Philippines had "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.)

The Philippines as of Thursday confirmed 61,266 coronavirus infections, of which 38,183 are active cases.

This screenshot from the health department's COVID-19 case tracker website shows a tally of local cases of the respiratory disease as of July 16. Department of Health