Philippines has slowed down coronavirus spread, says university researcher

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The Philippines has slowed down the spread of the new coronavirus, but it is not anything to be excited about, a University of the Philippines researcher has said.

In a television interview on Sunday (Sept 6), Dr Guido David of the university’s OCTA Research team said that the local reproduction number of the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 had gone down to less than 1 per cent.

OCTA Research is an independent interdisciplinary research group composed of the university’s faculty members and graduates.

“It’s about 0.94 when we last checked it using the latest data from around 0.99 last week,” Dr David said. “So it is decreasing, and that is very good news. It means we are sustaining the flattening of the curve.”

Earlier, Dr David said the infection curve could be flattened by the end of August or September.

Another indication of the slowdown is the decrease in the positivity rate. “We were averaging more than 4,000 cases in mid to late August, and now we’re averaging about 3,000,” Dr David said.

However, he advised the public not to be overly excited about the development.

“It doesn’t mean our problem is solved. It doesn’t mean the pandemic is over,” he said. “The virus is still here. We’re still getting around 3,000 cases per day, and we have to sustain our momentum. So we have to keep doing the right things and not falter.”

It also does not mean that Metropolitan Manila, the epicentre of the local coronavirus outbreak, should now shift to the easiest quarantine level.

“If we ever relax to (modified general community quarantine), we should evaluate this carefully. I’m not saying we can’t, but we have to evaluate it carefully,” Dr David said.

On the recommendation of the Metro mayors, President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the metropolis under general community quarantine up to Sept 30.

The mayors have rejected recommendations for a hard lockdown to allow a wider reopening of the economy, preferring targeted lockdowns to deal with outbreaks.

On Sunday, the Department of Health reported 2,839 additional infections, bringing the national case count to 237,365.

For the sixth time since July 13, the Department of Health, following its new strategy of counting mild and asymptomatic patients as recovered after completing 14 days of isolation, reported mass recoveries of 23,074, pushing the total number of Covid-19 survivors to 184,687.

The department, however, also reported 85 more deaths, raising the death toll to 3,875, which, considered with the recoveries, left the country with 48,803 active cases.

Of the active cases, 88.6 per cent were mild, 8 per cent asymptomatic, 1.4 per cent severe, and 2 per cent critical.

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