Philippines has yet to flatten curve on COVID-19



Even though there are indications that the increase in new cases has started to decline, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Thursday the Philippines has yet to flatten the curve of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During the past nine days, data from the DOH has showed that the number of patients recovering from the highly-infectious disease continues to surpass the number of deaths.

As of 4 pm. on April 23, there are 29 recoveries bringing to 722 the total number of patients as against the 462 death toll with 16 new deaths.

The DOH also announced a total of 6,981 tested positive for COVID-19 with 271 new confirmed cases.

Vergeire noted  a slowing down in the transmission of the COVID-19. She said this can be seen from the rate of doubling time of cases.

She said that from a three-day case doubling time, the Philippines now has a five-day rate.

She cited remarks from health experts that this is an indication that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country will double after five days.

“That’s a good indication if the case doubling time increases. Experts said if we can attain a 30-day case doubling time or more, we can say that we are really onto that direction of flattening the curve. But it’s still along way to go, but at least, this is good news for all of us,” said Vergeire.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said they are planning to shorten the shifts of the healthcare professionals in order to allow them to build up their resistance against the disease by providing them more hours of rest. She said this would also minimize their exposure to the disease.

“We are looking at these recommendations from Chinese experts. One of their recommendations is we should be able to shorten the shifts of our workers,” she said.

Chinese medical experts who visited the Philippines to provide technical assistance to the government in addressing the pandemic earlier asked health frontliners should be on duty for only four hours.

Based on the latest DOH data, Vergeire said 1,062 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19, Twenty six have since died.  Nineteen of the 26 casualties were doctors.

She said that 422 of those infected are doctors, 386 are nurses, 30 are medical technologists, 21 are X-ray technologists, 51 are nursing assistants, and 152 are administrative workers and barangay health workers.

However, she denied claims that the high infection rate of healthcare workers stemmed from the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). She emphasized that some of the healthcare workers contracted the disease outside of their workplaces.

She said that even though there is a lack of PPE, she doubts that any doctor would treat a COVID-19 patient without wearing any kind of protection, not unless the patient lied about their exposure history.

“I don’t think any doctor really would treat a patient without anything on,” Vergeire said.

One of the possible reasons of COVID-19 infection of healthcare workers  is their exposure to the coronavirus outside their workplaces.  She said some of them may have contracted the disease outside their place of work./Stacy Ang

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