A bus conductor (R) takes the temperature of passengers about to board a bus in Manila on June 23, 2020.
AFP/AC Dimatatac
COVID-19 cases in Philippines projected to hit 60,000 by end-July
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 30, 2020 - 3:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Researchers estimated the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country could soar to 60,000 by the end of July as the Philippines is still experiencing “significant” community transmission of the illness.

A new study from OCTA Research—composed of professors from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas—also projected that deaths related to COVID-19 may reach 1,300 by end-July.

Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has so far sickened 36,438 people in the Philippines. Of the figure, 1,255 have died while 9,956 have recovered.

The current reproduction number—which represents the number of people who may be infected by a confirmed case—in the country was estimated at 1.28, which indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet on the downward trend, the researchers said. Ideally, the reproductive number should be below one.

“Based on the current number of cases in the Philippines (including uncategorized cases) and assuming the trends continue, this projects to more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases by July 31, with 1,300 deaths,” the experts said.

The projection of 60,000 cases by end-July, however, was based on the lower end of the estimated 60,000 to 70,000 cases.

“We emphasize that the projected increase in cases and deaths can be prevented by rapidly identifying and breaking chains of viral transmission,” the researchers said.

The group earlier projected that COVID-19 infections in the country would reach 40,000 by end-June.

Projections for Metro Manila, Cebu

According to the researchers, community spread of the virus is “uneven” across the archipelago but “Central Visayas, especially Cebu City, has significantly higher transmission rates than the rest of the country.”

Cebu City was reverted back to enhanced community quarantine at least until the end of the month after the metropolis saw a spike in virus infections.

Cebu province is expected to have 15,000 cases by the end of July if ECQ remains implemented. But if restrictions on movement are relaxed, COVID-19 infections may swell between 20,000 and 30,000 by July 31.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila may see 27,000 cases by end of July if transmission decreases.

Aside from Cebu and Metro Manila, Rizal and Leyte were also classified “high-risk” areas.

‘Recalibrate’ strategies

The researchers urged the government to re-examine and recalibrate its strategies in combating the health crisis. 

“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 mathematics professor Guido David, UP political science professor Ranjit Singh Rye, Maria Patricia Agbulos, and UST biology professor Reverend Fr Nicanor Austriaco said.

They called on the government to test a minimum of 10,000 and 20,000 individuals in Metro Manila and the Philippines, respectively, per day, and conduct aggressive and effective contact tracing.

“It is time to change gears before we lose control of the situation. We need a new strategy that is characterized by empowered execution, treatment of citizens as partners, and relying on evidence-based policy and decision making,” the researchers said.

“The specific elements of a new approach can be further refined. What is urgent is to recognize that doing more of the same will not lead to better results. We also do not want to remain the laggard in the region in the fight against COVID-19. The nation deserves better,” they added.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce new quarantine measures nationwide later Tuesday.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 29, 2020 - 12:32pm

A thread of major news, developments and government pronouncements related the extended community quarantine across the country. Real-time updates about the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines are available in this live blog. (Main image by AFP/Ted Aljibe)

June 29, 2020 - 12:32pm

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 imposes a moratorium on the transit of locally stranded persons in Western Visayas, Cebu island, Mactan, Eastern Visayas and Caraga.

"Wala na po silang lugar para mag-quarantine," IATF spokesperson Harry Roque says in a virtual briefing. 

(They have no place to undergo quarantine anymore.)

June 28, 2020 - 4:29pm

The Department of Health announces 485 "fresh" COVID-19 cases on Sunday, June 28.

Another 168 are "late" cases, or "released to patients four days ago or more."

Most of the cases are still from the National Capital Region, with 245 "fresh" and 111 "late."

Central Visayas accounts for 120 "fresh" cases and 11 "late" ones. 

June 4, 2020 - 4:10pm

The National Bureau of Investigation's Death Investigation Division has filed murder and perjury complaints at the Department of Justice against Police M/Sgt. Daniel Florendo and four others over the killing of former soldier Winston Ragos.

Complaints of planting of evidence have also been filed against Florendo and Police S/Sgt. Hector Besas.

Ragos was killed, allegedly in self-defense, in Quezon City on April 21 after a confrontation over quarantine protocols. Florendo shot him, saying the former soldier was reaching for a gun. 

A video of the incident showed Ragos had already turned his back to Florendo when he was shot a second time.

May 19, 2020 - 7:59pm

The Department of Foreign Affairs announces that the Philippine Embassy in Yangon repatriated 91 stranded and distressed Filipinos to Manila on Monday through a special chartered Air Asia flight.

"Some of the repatriates were stranded in Yangon due to flight cancellations. Others lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19- related restrictions thus leaving them economically vulnerable to continue living in Myanmar," says the DFA in a statement.

May 19, 2020 - 6:21pm

Government Service Insurance System announces that the pension fund is again extending the deadline for the Annual Pensioners’ Information Revalidation (APIR) to 30 June 2020. 

“Old-age and survivorship pensioners born in March, April and May need not go to GSIS branches to renew their active status for the time being. We advise them to postpone visiting our branches. They can do their APIR at a later date through our GWAPS kiosks located in large government offices, provincial capitols, city and municipal offices, selected SM and Robinsons malls and GSIS offices. Anyway, they have until 30 June 2020 to do their APIR,” says GSIS President and General Manager Rolando Ledesma Macasaet.

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