UP experts: COVID curve has flattened but…

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    THE Philippines has flattened the curve of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) even if it now has more than 230,000 cases, a member of a University of the Philippines research group said yesterday.

    Dr. Guido David of the UP OCTA Research Team said the virus’ reproduction number of 1.02 has gone down to 0.99 and 0.94 last week.

    “Actually na-flatten na siya (It’s actually flattened),” David told CNN Philippines. “So nag-de-decrease pa siya and that is very good news. Ibig sabihin, na-su-sustain natin ‘yung flattening of the curve (So it’s decreasing and that’s very good news. That means we’re sustaining the flattening of the curve),” he said.

    Despite the development, David cautioned the public against being “overly excited” as he warned that the trend can change at any time because “trends are not irreversible.”

    “Ibig sabihin (which means), we could have another surge,” David said. “The virus is still here, we’re still getting around 3,000 cases per day and so we have to sustain the momentum, to sustain the gain. So we have to keep doing the right things and to not falter.”

    While case doubling time has been improving, the UP Research Team is still looking at a projected 330,000 to 375,000 cases by the end of September.

    The reproduction number or r-naught is the number of new infections estimated to stem from a single COVID-19 case while case doubling time is the number of days it takes for the number of cases and deaths to double.

    David said the virus’ positivity rate is also going down, from an average of over 4,000 daily cases in mid-August to 3,000 in the past few days.

    Last week, David said the country may take a wrong turn if the curve does not flatten this week.

    Likewise, David urged the government not to act hastily on proposals to further ease restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR), which is currently under general community quarantine until the end of September.

    “If we ever relax to MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), we should evaluate this carefully, we should think about it carefully,” he said.

    HOME QUARANTINE

    The Department of Health (DOH) will continue to allow home quarantine for asymptomatic and mild cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has said.

    Vergeire said there have been no changes in the DOH’s protocols in handling asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases, contrary to the statement of National Task Force against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.,

    “We did not change our protocol. We still allow home quarantine provided that people who will do the home quarantine can satisfy the conditions,” said Vergeire.

    “They have their own room, have their own toilet, have no members of the vulnerable population at home, and can be properly monitored by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs),” she added.

    Similarly, Vergeire said they do not agree that the home quarantine policy is solely to blame for the community transmission of COVID-19.

    She said there are other factors that have contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

    “We have noted that home quarantine is among those that have contributed. Many are even saying that it contributed greatly. But there are still other factors why we have this community transmission, and not just due to home quarantine,” Vergeire said.

    Galvez had blamed the practice of home quarantine as one of the main reasons for the widespread community transmission in Metro Manila as well as in other parts of the country.

    Galvez said that home quarantine for asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases would be disastrous for the country. – With Gerard Naval