'Congratulations, Philippines': Roque says the country beat UP's COVID-19 forecast

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippine, June 30) — Malacañang on Tuesday maintained that the government has disproved the projection of experts that the country's COVID-19 cases will reach 40,000 by the end of the month.

During his virtual briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque happily exclaimed that the country proved the forecast of the University of the Philippines wrong, with 36,438 recorded COVID-19 cases as of Monday noon.

"Panalo na tayo (We won). We beat the UP prediction. Congratulations, Philippines! Let's do it again in July," said Roque, throwing his fist in the air.

He reiterated that the country is "winning" the COVID-19 battle, and that there are only 1,000 cases -- not 10,000 as others claim -- still to be validated by the government.

Reyes said the country has a backlog of around 10,000 cases, as the DOH reported that 46,272 people tested positive for COVID-19 as of June 28. Of that number, only 36,438 were confirmed cases.

"Contrary to what Roque claims, nowhere in any DOH report do we see a backlog of only 1,000," Reyes said. "Unless the DOH has changed its definition of a backlog in validation, Roque's claims are false. He offers no proof of this '1,000 backlog.'"

"Changing definitions and slowing down the validation will not change the fact that we have an increasing incidence of COVID-19," Reyes added.

Meanwhile, the DOH in its latest situation report said it had 3,521 testing backlogs as of June 29.

"The DOH is continuously validating the number of positive individuals as reported by the laboratories," it wrote. "When necessary, they are duplicated. As such, the discrepancy with the number of confirmed cases do not necessarily reflect backlogs in case validation."

The University of the Philippines OCTA Research Team earlier projected that the country may reach 40,000 cases by the end of June. By July 31, infections may further surge to at least 60,000.

The research team added that cases in Metro Manila may top 27,000 and Cebu province 15,000 by then.

Vice President Leni Robredo earlier said that the administration was in a "state of denial" about how it has been responding to the pandemic. The government was last to shut down international travel which could have prevented the entry of coronavirus carriers to Metro Manila, and eventually to the rest of the country, she added.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce his decision Tuesday night on the new quarantine status of Metro Manila and other areas for July.