Ateneo study: Millions of COVID-19 cases in PH possibly undetected
MANILA, Philippines — Nearly three million Filipinos or 2.6 percent of the Philippines’ estimated population of 106 million may have been infected with COVID-19 from April to June but are undetected, a study from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) has shown.
The study released on August 18 by ADMU’s Department of Economics and authored by Jan Frederick Cruz found that “roughly 98% of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines have gone undetected during the second quarter of 2020.”
The Philippines may have had recorded 2,812,891 COVID-19 cases from April to June, but only 34,354 or 1.22 percent were detected and reported, according to Cruz’s computation.
Cruz also computed that Indonesia may have had 6,578,925 cases, but only detected 53,678 or 0.82 percent; Thailand may have had 89,357 cases, but only detected 1,520 or 1.70 percent, and Malaysia may have had 158,237, but only detected 6,011 or 3.80 percent.
The author arrived at the estimate by multiplying the number of reported cases of a country to the ratio derived by dividing its case fatality rate with Singapore’s which has a low number of recorded deaths compared to other Southeast Asian countries Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
“The study at hand discloses that 49 out of every 50 COVID-19-positive persons in the Philippines have gone undetected during the second quarter of this year,” Cruz said.
While Indonesia may have more estimated cases, Cruz said discounting the effect of population size “highlights the Philippines as the worst performer among the ASEAN-5 in controlling the spread of COVID-19.”
“This is a troubling finding for the country, especially as the Philippines has been subjected to the longest and most stringent quarantine measures in the world, according to international mass media,” he further explained.
The Philippines has been under lockdown since mid-March, with the government changing the classifications or levels every 15 days.
Cruz noted that mere extension of lockdowns without “complementary mass testing is impractical.”
“Once the quarantine is lifted, undetected COVID-19-positive persons will simply resuscitate viral transmission, voiding any previous progress,” he went on.
Therefore, Cruz said the Philippines must all the more pursue mass testing and implement the World Health Organization’s recommendation to intensify the “test, trace, and isolate” strategy.
As a disclaimer, the paper noted that it is just a “preliminary version” and “have not been published in a journal or vetted through a peer-review process.” It added that the purpose of circulation was to elicit comments and suggestions.
Meanwhile, experts from the University of the Philippines have warned that cases in the country may reach 230,000 by the end of August if the government eases quarantine measures.
But the government went on and downgraded Metro Manila and four of its nearby provinces to a more lenient lockdown category – general community quarantine – until August 31.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines recorded 169,213 COVID-19 cases with 2,687 deaths and 112,861 recoveries.
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