MANILA — A group of University of the Philippines researchers who projected 40,000 COVID-19 cases in the country by June said there is still a chance for Filipinos to beat a 60,000 projection for July.
This is despite the recent increase in cases in the National Capital Region.
“What we’re seeing is an alarming increase in the number of new cases here in NCR,” said UP OCTA Research Group Fellow Ranjit Rye.
The UP OCTA Research Group projected last month that based on the current trends then, COVID-19 cases may reach a total of 40,000 by the end of June.
While, total confirmed cases only reached 37,154 by June 30, the number breached the 40,000 mark just a few days later on July 3.
But not after Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque boasted that the country was able to beat the “prediction.”
The group then projected that cases may reach 60,000 by the end of July.
Rye, a political science professor at UP, said their group, which is composed of professors from other fields such as mathematics, is still studying the current trends and will be coming out with a new projection in a few days.
UPTICK IN CASES
“Right now there is significant community transmission happening all over the country especially in NCR,” he told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.
He said the positivity rate or the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 is continuing to rise, from just around 5% last month to 7% to 8% recently.
“The R naught is increasing in the NCR. And the positivity rate is also increasing and that is not a good sign,” he said.
The Reproduction Number or R naught shows the transmission potential of a disease.
“The trend seem to point to an uptick,” Rye said. “And we need to control this transmission.”
Asked if the increase in cases in NCR would mean that their projection of 60,000 would probably become true, Rye said they hope not.
“We can beat the 60,000 projection if we work together,” he said. “Right now it’s still manageable. We can buck the trend, turn the tide.”
He also pointed out that their projections are “not predictions.”
“It’s a range of numbers, a possibility of what can happen in the future,” he said.
On Sunday and Monday, additional COVID-19 cases exceeded 2,000. The DOH also confirmed the increase in cases in NCR and Cebu island, both of which have a few identified hotspots for COVID-19.
Rye said that if the government wants to further ease restrictions, it will have to really expand its daily testing.
“If they don’t get testing to 20,000 to 30,000 within the next month, mahirapan tayo (we’ll have difficulties),” he said.
He added that testing should go up to 50,000 daily and more contact tracers should be employed if the country wants to open up the economy again. Another requirement would be to see 2 weeks worth of a decline in cases and a faster relay of COVID-19 numbers.
While the government intensifies its testing, tracing and treating, he said Filipinos should do their part as citizens.
“For citizens, the response is clear. Stay away from crowded places,” he said, adding that it is a patriotic act to follow the government’s health standards.
“We need to confront it. Not just be alarmed by it. We have to act now,” he said.
Rye said they will continue monitoring the numbers and will issue a new update on their projections soon.