UP research: PH virus cases may hit 40,000 this month
The total number of new coronavirus cases in the country could reach 40,000 by the end of June, researchers from the University of the Philippines (UP) said on Thursday.
Professor Guido David of the UP OCTA Research told an online forum hosted by the Department of Health (DOH) that the projection was based on current trends in coronavirus data.
David explained that the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes the severe respiratory ailment COVID-19, can be measured by the ratio of infection and recovery rate or the reproduction number (RȦ, pronounced R naught).
“If RȦ is greater than 1, it means the virus is spreading. But if it’s lesser than 1, it means the [spread is slowing],” David said.
Current R0 1.2
Currently, he said, the Philippines’ RȦ is 1.2.
Based on that reproduction number, the national caseload could reach 40,000 by June 30, he said.
“We just assumed the figure by using the RȦ of 1.2. If the RȦ decreases—and it is now decreasing—because we can see in [Metro Manila], the RȦ is less than 1, so if we project the figure, it could be lower,” David said.
He noted, however, that many cities in the country are “winning the war” against COVID-19. The “battlegrounds” are only Metro Manila and Cebu City, he said.
But while infections “have not escalated beyond what could be considered as manageable,” UP professor Ranjit Rye warned the public against complacency.
No relaxation of restrictions
“Right now, the numbers are a cause for concern, but not a cause for panic. This should not be a cause for panic because the numbers are still manageable, our recoveries are improving, [mortality is] going down, and health capacity, because of the [quarantine], has gone up,” Rye said.
But he said his group was not recommending loosening quarantine restrictions, “unless there is enough data to support changing the status now.”
“When the government decides, we all understand and appreciate that it does not just look at the health concerns. It looks at other factors such as the economy, the psychosocial well-being of citizens. What we caution the government [against] is [moving] without data,” Rye said.
“It’s predictable that once you open up, there will be spikes in the number. But so far, our numbers have not escalated beyond what we consider as manageable,” he added.
Rye urged the public to be vigilant and to be alert, saying the cases could easily escalate because the transmission rate of the virus was quite high.
“We all have to work together, coordinate our efforts. The goal is to bring the RȦ to less than 1, which is the level we had during the [lockdown],” he said.
“When the number is above 1, there’s significant community transmission and if left alone, it could lead to an outbreak,” he added.
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