Think the Philippines might flatten the curve by September, as predicted by a University of the Philippines mathematician? Well, the Department of Health (DOH) tried to manage everyone’s expectations today by saying that they are unsure if that’s going to happen.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with Unang Hirit that the government “really can’t say” if the number of coronavirus cases will slow down next month.
“Nothing is certain at this point. Although, these models, these forecasts, they are used as guides in our response on how we should come up with interventions. But we really can’t say for now if we have reached the peak and if we can flatten the curve by the end of September,” she said in English and Filipino.
Vergeire added that people should also consider the country’s health system capacity in order to predict the flattening of the curve.
“It’s not just the number of cases but also the capacity of the health system because it’s important to look at these two [factors] to say if we are managing the response well,” the health official said.
Most Filipinos reacted positively to the analysis of academic Guido David who said yesterday that the curve may flatten either at the end of this month or in September because the Philippines’ reproductive number (R0) has reached 1.1.
The reproductive number measures the number of people a patient can possibly infect. A densely populated area, such as Metro Manila, will have a higher R-number than a place with fewer people. Experts have said that an area should ideally have an R-number that is below 1 because anything higher than that will lead to a significant increase in COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Vergeire said today that the DOH has cleared its data backlog, which prevented the government from reporting COVID-19 cases accurately and in real-time.
“We no longer have a validation backlog. This started [to get cleared] when the DOH formed the data management [team]. This is a quick action and surveillance unit of DOH where we implemented a massive cleaning of data,” she said.
The Philippines has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 194,252 cases recorded as of yesterday, including 132,042 recoveries and 3,010 deaths.
This article, Health Dep’t uncertain if PH can flatten coronavirus curve by September, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!