The Department of Health (DOH) warned on Wednesday that without appropriate interventions, the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines may spike to 75,000 in three months.
The DOH reported, as of 12 noon on Wednesday, the number of confirmed positive cases in the Philippines for COVID-19 was 202, with 17 deaths and only 7 patients who recovered .
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the 75,000 was based on the “modeling estimate” made by Filipino experts together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and epidemiologist in the Philippines.
“They were saying that (COVID-19) would reach 75,000 if we will not put appropriate interventions,” said Vergeire.
“We are trying to forecast to properly respond,” she said.
However, Vergeire is also optimistic they can flatten this curve. “We can prevent the peak with this number. So this means we can spread this across many months if only we can implement stringent measures like social distancing,” she said.
Vergeire stressed the need to implement stringent measures, such as the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, which calls for social distancing to “flatten the curve.”
“So that we can flatten that curve, we can flatten that peak. It will become wide, will become longer but the cases will be lower and our system can be responsive,” she said.
Without social distancing, she cautioned that an infected person can pass the virus on to two to three persons in just one interaction.
She said the virus of one person can have a reproductive rate and it can be transferred to two to three persons in just one sitting.
However, if strict social distancing measures would be implemented, Vergeire said the Philippines would have enough time to respond to the number of cases of COVID-19 if the pandemic peaks in the country.
Vergeire also confirmed there is now clustering of COVID-19 cases in the country, an indication of sustained community transmission of the contagious virus.
She pointed out that some of the confirmed cases do not have any links with other cases. “If we have this kind of situation, it means we already have sustained community transmission,” she said.
DOH defined sustained community transmission as “increasing number of local cases whose links cannot be established.”
This was also confirmed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, stressing that some cases no longer have a history of travel to COVID-19-affected countries, nor exposure to a positive COVID-19 case.
“You can no longer link it to each other. In effect, there is already unlinkable clustering of cases or untraceable chains of transmission in the community,” Duque said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, directing everybody to just at home to prevent the further spread of the dreaded virus.
On Tuesday night, Duterte also placed the country under a state of calamity to enable government to respond better to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
The state of calamity is effective for six months unless Duterte lifts it earlier or extends it further.
All government agencies and local government units were directed to mobilize all of the necessary and available resources to undertake measures and “eliminate the threat of COVID-19.”
Law enforcement agencies, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are directed to ensure peace and order in affected areas./ Stacy Ang