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PH COVID-19 cases may hit a staggering 60,000 by end of July—experts

By: Darryl John Esguerra - INQUIRER.net June 30,2020 - 06:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the government’s claim that the country is “winning” the fight against COVID-19, experts projections showed that coronavirus infections in the Philippines may reach 60,000 by the end of July.

According to a study by the University of the Philippines OCTA Research, cases in Metro Manila may surge up to 27,000 and while 15,000 is the projection for Cebu province by July 31.

The researchers said the current reproduction rate of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines is around 1.28, still greater than the ideal rate of less than 1.

“This indicates that the pandemic is not yet on the downward trend. Moreover, community spread is uneven throughout the archipelago. At this time, the province of Cebu has significantly higher transmission rates than the rest of the country,” the group said.

The death count, meanwhile, may reach 1,300 by July 31, the experts projected.

They also pointed out that the number of cases in Metro Manila increases by 50 percent when movement restrictions are relaxed.

From an average of 271 fresh COVID-19 cases per day during Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to 396 fresh cases per day during Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), to 583 fresh cases per day during General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the study noted.

“This increase can be explained in part by the increase in testing capacity in the country especially since the positivity rate remains stable,” the study said.

“Nonetheless, the positivity rate over the past two weeks is trending up suggesting that the pandemic is spreading more significantly. We believe that this uptick in the positivity rate reflects the current situation in Cebu, which is experiencing a surge in infections.”

The researchers then asked the government to “review“ and “recalibrate” its strategies to ensure that COVID-19 transmission will not overwhelm the country’s health care system.

“In our view, the aforementioned national and local projections represent a significant increase in transmissions and is a serious cause for concern that needs to be examined and given appropriate and immediate response by the government,” UP OCTA said.

The researchers include UP mathematics professor Guido David, UP political science professor Ranjit Singh Rye, Maria Patricia Agbulos, and University of Santo Tomas biology professor Reverend Fr Nicanor Austriaco.

President Duterte is set to announce new community quarantine measures on Tuesday, the day his previous order is set to expire.

Except for Cebu City, which is placed under the stringent ECQ, and Talisay City which is now under MECQ due to their high transmission rate, and the increasing demand for critical care, the entire country—including Metro Manila—is currently under less restrictive coronavirus lockdowns.

To date, there are 36,438 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 9,956 recoveries and 1,255 deaths.

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