PH sees flattening of COVID-19 curve – expert

Female coast guards in full protective gear on Tuesday prepare to man 66 testing booths at Palacio de Maynila, an events venue on Roxas Boulevard that has been converted into a temporary swabbing center to expand the government’s testing capacity for the new coronavirus. The Department of Health aims to conduct 30,000 tests a day by the end of May. | photo by Marianne Bermudez

HAS the Philippines flattened the coronavirus curve? A local epidemiology expert thinks so, citing the recent decline in the number of new cases and fatalities due to the virus.

According to Dr. John Wong, who serves on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the doubling time for the confirmed cases has slowed down to at least every four days while the death cases have been flattening at a “more dramatic” slowdown as it now approaches the seven-day rate.

“When April 1 came around, you see the curve started to flatten. From doubling every less than three days, now it’s doubling around four days,” he said, presenting a graph to members of the media on Tuesday, May 5.

“The deaths started very fast…then we start to see it flattening. Deaths are flattening at a more dramatic rate. Near the 7-day line,” he added.

Wong also acknowledged that the picture of the Philippines’ COVID-19 situation presented in his data was from 10 to 14 days ago.

“This is a picture [of the COVID-19 situation in the country] about 10 days back. We already saw that 10 days ago, there was already an improvement in both cases and mortality,” he said.

“We already saw that the curve had already flattened. If there [are] no significant changes, the flattening will continue, meaning, we will have very few additional cases,” he added.

When asked if the country has reached its peak, Wong admitted that it was “difficult to predict when the peak will be and how many cases we’ll have at the peak.”

“There are several models going around, but they are [presenting] different numbers. I don’t want to speculate whether we have reached the peak,” he added.

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, said that flattening the curve should not be based solely on the number of new cases and mortality rates.

“Ito pong mga sinasabi nating mga ito ay kailangan hindi kuhanin or intindihin sa iisang konteksto lang. Katulad ng sinasabi natin, hindi lang numero ng kaso ang pinag-uusapan natin dito (What we are discussing here should not be interpreted within only one context. Like what we’ve been saying, we should not just look into the figures),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Pinag-uusapan natin dito ang kapasidad ng health system kung tayoy makakagapay kung sakaling dumami ang kaso (We are also talking about the capacity of the country’s health care system to respond if there’s a rise in the number of infections),” she added.

As of writing, there are now 10,343 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with 685 fatalities and 1,618 recoveries.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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