PH COVID-19 cases could reach 40,000 by June 30 if quarantine restrictions loosened, UP experts say

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country may increase to 40,000 by June 30 if quarantine restrictions will be eased further, a team of experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) said.

In a forum held on Thursday, the UP experts presented the data on the transmission of coronavirus which was based on the current trends of virus transmission in the country.

“Right now, ‘yung projection namin, ginamit lang naming yung R0 (pronounced as R naught) na 1.2 sa Philippines. So iyong projection actually is nasa 40,000 cases pa rin by June 30,” said Institute of Mathematics Professor Guido David, who is part of the UP OCTA Research Team which issues forecast report on COVID-19 since April.

“Kapag nagbago ang trends na iyan, magbabago ang projection pwedeng tumaas, pwedeng bumaba,” he added.

The reproduction number or R0 is used to gauge the transmission potential of the disease. It is the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease.

The Philippines currently has a reproduction number of 1.2, which means that an existing infection can cause one new infection.

Political Science Expert Ranjit Singh Rye, also a member of the UP OCTA Research Team, said that the current reproduction number may still go up if the community quarantine restrictions being implemented in the country will be lifted or further eased.

“Kumakalat pa iyong COVID-19, nakakahawa siya. Marami pang mahahawa kapag hindi tayo gagawa ng mga hakbang,” Rye said.

“Both national level, government level at level po ng indibidwal. Ang number one takeaway. Significant pa ang comunity transmission and marami pa tayo kailangan gawin para imanage yung COVID-19 pandemic sa bansa,” he added.

The country has so far recorded 23,732 coronavirus infections with 4,895 recoveries and 1,027 fatalities.

Metro Manila and other areas with high number of COVID-19 cases are under general community quarantine until June 15.

Malacañang earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte will announce on Monday the fate of the quarantine restrictions being enforced in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UP OCTA Research Team said it is not recommending the loosening of community quarantine for now as it may result in a spike of COVID-19 cases.

It also advised the Department of Health to monitor the situation and to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus, especially in areas where the transmission is evident.

The team also said that health protocols, such as social distancing, should continue to be observed by the public. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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