COVID-19 cases in PH may peak at 75,000 in 3 Months &Filipinos May Need to Stay Home Until June 2020

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

‘Coronavirus cases in PH may peak at 75,000 in 3 months’

Why Filipinos need to stay at home until June or even longer

‘Coronavirus cases in PH may peak at 75,000 in 3 months’

Local and international health experts have warned that the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may infect as much as 75,000 people in the Philippines in the next three months if the virus is not contained.

Speaking at a “public” press briefing aired by state-run PTV on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the figure was the estimate of experts from the Department of Health, and World Health Organization, including Filipino epidemiologists.

However, Vergeire said it is still possible to “flatten” the projection through appropriate interventions such as the strict social distancing measure.

“In two to 3 months, it can reach that peak kung saan 75,000 ang pwedeng magka infection. Pero we can flatten this curve, meaning kaya natin pigilan ang ganitong numero … if only we can implement stringent measures tulad ng social distancing,” Vergeire said.

At a certain point, the health official said the virus can reach a reproductive rate wherein a person carrying the COVID-19 virus can infect two individuals in a single interaction.

“Ito po ay nakuha natin base po sa statistics na meron tayo ngayon among all cases across the globe. Sinasabi po na pwedeng magkaroon gn reproductive rate ang virus na one person (who) can transmit to two persons in just one sitting,” she explained.

As of date, there are 193 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, with 14 deaths and 7 recoveries.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 180,000 people in 159 countries and territories.

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the virus that causes COVID-19 as SARS-CoV-2. It is believed to have first jumped from an animal host to humans in Wuhan, China.

The virus, now considered by WHO as a pandemic, causes mild symptoms such as fever and cough for most people but experts said that older adults with preexisting health conditions were more vulnerable to the coronavirus, particularly those aged over 60-years-old.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.

President Duterte has placed the entire Philippines under a state of calamity for six months due to the virus.

He has also placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine in a bid to prevent the further spread of the contagion.

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Why Filipinos need to stay at home until June (or even longer)

Two studies suggest the Philippines is only at the very beginning of this public health crisis

These days economists worldwide agree on two things.

First, the global economy is headed for a recession or sustained economic downturn due to COVID-19. Governments are now drawing up huge stimulus packages to shore up their embattled economies.

Second, the first order of business is to contain COVID-19. Unless the pandemic is quelled, a global economic recovery won’t occur any time soon.

So this week I’m taking the time to look at epidemiologists’ outlooks for COVID-19, in the Philippines and abroad, to see where we’re headed.

The outlook looks grim.

Two studies suggest the Philippines – which now has sustained community transmission – is only at the very beginning of this public health crisis.

In fact, the Philippine epidemic might not peak until June and taper off until October (or even longer). This bleak outlook coincides with epidemiologists’ predictions abroad.

Thankfully, we’re not totally helpless. We can still change the course of this contagion – if only we “flatten the curve.”

Grim scenarios

Exactly how will COVID-19 spread in the Philippines?

Filipino epidemiologists are now crunching the numbers, and there are two studies I’ve seen so far.

The first analysis is by Dr. Jomar Rabajante of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics at the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños.

He predicts that, at least for Metro Manila, the epidemic will peak at around mid-April, when there could be in excess of 2,500 cases in a single day (Figure 1).

When the epidemic is seen to subside by end of June, there will have been a total of 11,000 cases in Metro Manila.

Figure 1. Source: Rabajante [2020]

The second analysis – this time nationwide in scope – is by Dr. Darwin Bandoy of the College of Veterinary Medicine at UP Los Baños and the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California at Davis.

Dr. Bandoy’s estimates are grimmer. He predicts

the nationwide epidemic will not peak until end of June, when we could see a whopping 245,000 cases in a day (see Figure 2). Worse, the epidemic won’t taper off until October, he said.


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