COVID-19 cases projected to hit 250,000 by end-Aug as lockdown eases: expert

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 12:25 PM

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MANILA — The country’s coronavirus tally could swell to 250,000 cases by the end of August as Metro Manila and other urban centers eased their pandemic lockdown, a former government adviser said Tuesday. 

The Philippines confirmed 164,474 cases of the disease as of Monday. The tally increased by an average of 4,000 cases a day even during stricter quarantine measures, said Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser of the national task force on COVID-19 response. 

The reproductive number – the number of people an infected person can pass the virus to – is at 1.12. The Philippines’ positivity rate, or the share of tests that come back positive is 12 percent, higher than the ideal 5 percent set by the World Health Organization, he said. 

“All the metrics for acceleration of the cases are there,” Leachon told ANC. 

“My projection with the GCQ (general community quarantine), it would be about 230,000 or sorry, about 250,000 [cases] because we don’t see any — right now — arrest in the cases,” he added. 

Leachon urged the public to follow health standards and go on “voluntary” ECQ or enhanced community quarantine. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque should also focus on running his department and supervising the state medical insurer, PhilHealth, by stepping down as head of the inter-agency task force against the pandemic, he said. 

“Only one person is handling 3 difficult jobs. So I think in terms of focus, in terms of execution, you might have a problem there considering you are handling 3 posts,” Leachon said. 

“That’s the reason why I think the execution may actually be slow and it resulted to some problems.” 

To decongest hospitals, authorities should set up mobile satellite clinics that can be knocked down when no longer needed, like what South Korea did, he suggested. 

Leachon also urged the health department to report recoveries from the virus daily, instead of confirming tens of thousand of recoveries once every 2 weeks.