130,000 COVID-19 cases by August? UP team says it’s not meant to scare but inspire action from people
At least 130,000 cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by end of August.
A team of experts at the University of the Philippines (UP) said the projection was not meant to stoke fear but was a reminder to everyone to do their share in helping stop the transmission of SARS Cov2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Dr. Darwin Bandoy, of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, said on Monday (July 20) that each time the team comes out with mathematical models and projections, these were just meant to allow the government to prepare its response and inspire a change of behavior toward the pandemic among the people.
“We use these models to estimate the hospital capacity, project the peak and duration [of the infection] as a way to prepare as well as create behavioral change,” said Bandoy.
“That if interaction, contact is reduced, we may be able to change and improve our situation,” Bandoy said.
“We shouldn’t fear these models. These can serve as a guide for us to change our behavior and improve our response,” he added.
Earlier, the UP team projected that the country’s total COVID-19 cases by end-July would be anywhere from 51,095 to 67,795. On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded an additional 1,521 cases, pushing the national tally to 68,898 cases, very close to the UP projection.
UP’s upper limit projection by the end of July is 84,515. By end-August, the number of cases may range between 99,523 to 130,677.
According to Bandoy, the public will know that the national response is headed to the right direction if there is a declining positivity rate and the reproductive number of the SARS-CoV-2 virus falls to less than one.
“If we see the positivity rate decline, this means that we are improving in detecting cases and there are fewer people getting sick,” said Bandoy.
“If the reproductive number is less than one, it means that our response is getting better and we are able to control the pandemic,” he said.
DOH data showed the positivity rate to be 8.4 percent. At the start of July, the positivity rate is at 8.5 percent.
Based on June 24 data, the virus’ reproductive number, or the possible number of persons that can be infected by a single case, is 1.59. This meant that for every case of infection, there was likely to be more than one case of infection as a result of transmission. The reproductive number was 1.05 on July 1, using June 14 data.
Bandoy noted, though, that while the current number of cases is a bit high, this can be associated with the country’s ability to better detect cases now due to factors like expansion of testing capacity.
Of 1,521 new cases reported by 62 out of the 84 accredited testing laboratories, 1,209 are patients who tested positive in the last three days, while 312 were confirmed to infected four days ago or earlier.
The spread of the infection appears to be locked in Metro Manila as the overpopulated metropolis accounted for more than 80 percent of new cases, or 1,237. A far second are Cavite and Laguna provinces, each with 51 cases, followed by the provinces of Rizal (34) and Davao del Sur (22).
There are now a total 23,072 patients who have recovered from COVID-19 with the recovery of 607 more patients. The death toll, however, rose to 1,835 as four patients had died.
All four died this month. Two of them are from Central Visayas. The two others are from Metro Manila and Davao.
Of the nearly 44,000 active cases, 90.6 percent are patients with mild symptoms while 8.5 percent have none.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at the weekend the Metro Manila mayors met with the National Task Force for COVID-19 to discuss setting up more treatment and monitoring facilities for patients with mild or no symptoms.
She said plans are being worked out with six hotels that could serve as quarantine facilities while the Department of Public Works and Highways had committed to build more isolation sites.
There are to date 638 clusters of COVID-19 cases, of which 79 were recorded between July 15 and 17. There is a clustering of cases if an area has reported two or more cases.
Of 79 new clusters, Metro Manila had the most infected communities with 29 reported clusters, followed by Calabarzon (11), Central Luzon (8), Bicol (5) and Western Visayas (5).
The number of hospitals and jails with reported clustering of cases is still 49 for hospitals and 24 for jails.
As of July 18, at least 3,938 health care workers had contracted the virus. Of these, 712 are considered as active cases.
The national average number of days it takes cases of infection to double is 8.44. In Metro Manila, it is 8.84 while in Central Visayas, it is 9.68 days.
Vergeire said that while the situation in Cebu appeared to have improved, it was still too early to say if transmission of the virus had been stabilized.
“We’re still monitoring,” Vergeire said.
“The numbers have gone down but I cannot say if it’s already plateauing because we need to first see a trend,” she said.
She said data that the DOH was seeing was just “one week compared to the previous week.”
As of July 19, Cebu City accounted for 373 of new cases reported last week, fewer than the 516 cases it recorded the previous week. Manila had the most new cases last week (2,086), followed by Quezon City (1,017), Mandaluyong (620), Navotas (353) and Makati (346).
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