Virus cases likely to hit 150,000 by end-August
Researchers from the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas expect coronavirus cases to hit 150,000 with 3,000 deaths by August 31, 2020.
The UP OCTA Research Team said this is the likely scenario under current anti-COVID measures.
“This is important because a less effective implementation of the general community quarantine (GCQ) may lead to an additional 20,000 cases more,” UP OCTA Research Team said in its recent report.
As of July 31, COVID-19 cases already reached 93,354, with 2,023 deaths.
The group calculated the possible number of additional infections based on what is called R naught, or the reproduction rate of the virus. This represents the number of people who may be infected by a confirmed case. Ideally, this should be one or less, as anything higher means significant community transmission.
The R naught in the Philippines is 1.4 as of July 30. This is relatively lower than 1.75 R during the first week of the month, but still higher than 1.28 in June.
Epicenters, high-risk areas
The three epicenters of the pandemic are Metro Manila, Cebu and Calabarzon, the researchers said.
“It is important that we maintain our efforts in these three regions,” the researchers said, calling them “the main battleground against the pandemic."
Professor Guido David, a UP OCTA fellow, said Calabarzon recorded a surge in infections in July, particularly in Laguna, Cavite and Rizal. There are at least 100 cases in these provinces from July 22 to 28.
“Medyo maraming cases sa Laguna ngayon and pati sa Rizal and Cavite. We have to take extra precaution sa mga province na ito because we don’t want to let the numbers to go out of hand – na hindi na natin macontrol at ma-overwhlem ang system natin,” he said.
[Translation: There are many cases in Laguna now, as well as Rizal and Cavite. We have to take extra precaution in these provinces because we don’t want to let the numbers to go out of hand – to the point that we can no longer control it and our system is overwhelmed.]
As of June 30, over half or 60 percent of the total coronavirus cases are from Metro Manila, 18 percent from Cebu province and 10 percent from Calabarzon. The remaining 11% are from other regions.
The researchers tagged the following provinces as high-risk areas:
Davao del Sur (including Davao City)
Zamboanga del Sur
Meanwhile, the following are medium-risk areas:
Davao del Norte
Lanao del Norte
Researchers said Nueva Ecija is already a low-risk area with only less than two cases per day per million population.
Metro Manila's virus cases may double
As of July 30, the research said Metro Manila has the highest number of infections with 48,389 COVID-19 cases.
But the UP OCTA Research Team said this may double up to 100,000 by August 31 under GCQ.
If Metro Manila reverted to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine, the total projection would be lower at 75,000 to 80,000.
But when restrictions are relaxed, such as a modified GCQ, Metro Manila alone might have a total of 120,000 cases by next month, researchers said.
The high positivity rate in NCR indicates that the pandemic is “far from controlled," the researchers noted.
“We’re far from passing the danger zone. Even ngayon even if may 1.3 it is still a signifcant transmission. We are still getting 1,000 cases per day in NCR and that is a lot. The problem is really the healthcare system natin baka ma-overwhelm,” David said.
UP OCTA warned that NCR hospitals face an “imminent danger of becoming overwhelmed in the next two weeks.”
Cebu province already seems to be flattening the epidemic curve of COVID-19, the researchers said.
Virus reproduction rate in the province is less than one, which is ideal in managing and fighting the pandemic.
The positivity rate in the province has also gone down to less than 10%. The target positivity rate is 5%.
“Although the curve is flattening in Cebu, it should be noted that eliminating the pandemic in a region with a high number of new cases will take a while,” the UP OCTA Research Team’s forecast report read. “Given the current rate of transmission, for example, it will require at least 30 days before the number of new cases is reduced to less than 100 per day.”
Despite the positive outcome of anti-coronavirus measures in the province, David said Cebuanos should remain vigilant. Current efforts to contain the virus should also continue.
“The reproduction number has decreased less than one, that is a positive result for Cebu. Kaya lang it doesn’t mean na pwede na tayo maging kampante sa Cebu kasi (But it doesn’t mean that we can be complacent in Cebu because) we are still seeing 200 new cases,” David said.
UP OCTA projects the coronavirus cases in Cebu province would reach 20,000 to 25,000 by end of August.
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