COVID-19 cases may breach 65,000 by end of July, 100,000 by end of August — UP researcher

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
COVID-19 cases may breach 65,000 by end of July, 100,000 by end of August â UP researcher
Hundreds of locally stranded individuals gather at the sidewalk of the Quirino Grandstand along Roxas Boulevard in Manila as they queue for rapid testing before they are allowed to board buses heading to their respective provinces as part of the Hatid Tulong program sponsored by the national government on July 4, 2020.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines— A researcher from the University of the Philippines on Tuesday warned that COVID-19 cases could breach 100,000 in the country by the end of August.

"Based on what I saw, the trend will increase even more, over 100,000 if we don't change our system and the way we handle the pandemic," mathematics professor Dr. Guido David, a member of the UP OCTA Research group told ABS-CBN in Filipino.

This, after the health department logged a record-breaking surge in the daily tally of national infections amounting to 2,434 followed by another 2,099 cases on Monday — pushing the national tally to 46,333.

"Our current trajectory is quite high since we went under [general community quarantine], it looks like we will reach at least 65,000 by the end of July," Guido said in Filipino.

This new figure forecasts at least 5,000 more cases than the UP research group's previous working model for the month of July.

While researchers predict an increase of around 25,000 COVID-19 infections from June to July, they now predict an increase of over 35,000 from July to August.

To curb the spike in cases, Guid recommended that the government tighten borders and isolate those who tested positive for the virus in facilities instead of making them undergo home quarantine which he called ineffective.

He also emphasized the need for more testing in the country.

"It would be good if we had mass randomized testing, so when we increase our testing [we can conduct] pooled testing, testing in big groups. For example, 50 people could be tested using just one kit," Guido said in Filipino.

'Expanded targeted testing'

Despite the COVID-19 task force's recent approval of a plan to boost testing in the country in the coming months, the health department is racing against the clock just to achieve its testing goals for July.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in June said her department aims to test around 1.63 million Filipinos—about 1.5% of the population—by the end of July.

To achieve this goal, the government would have to double the number of tests so it has conducted so far in less than a month.

Data from the health department shows that 783, 358 Filipinos — about 0.7% of the population — have been tested as of July 5.

This is in stark contrast to the government's plan to test 10 million Filipinos — about 9% of the population — in the coming months.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque last week celebrated "beating" a forecast made by researchers from the University of the Philippines which estimated a total of 40,000 cases in the country by the end of June.

On June 30, the official health department tally stood at around 38,000, with Roque claiming that only about 1,000 backlogged cases remained.

Sunday's tally alone saw 1,287 cases coming from the national backlog while Monday's saw another 841 "late cases" as well.

The health department on Monday said it still has backlogs of around 8,000 cases. 

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