UP projects over 200,000 COVID-19 cases by end-August despite MECQ's help

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The country's total number of COVID-19 cases could hit 200,000 or more by the end of the month, which is 20,000 more than the previous projection, despite a slower trend during the stricter quarantine period, a research team from the University of the Philippines said Saturday. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) — The country's total number of COVID-19 cases could hit 200,000 or more by the end of the month, which is 20,000 more than the previous projection, despite a slower trend during the stricter quarantine period, a research team from the University of the Philippines said Saturday.

"'Yung 180,000 na projection namin noon it was lower-bound na ina-assume na mag-cocontinue 'yung MECQ until the end of the month," said Professor Guido David, UP OCTA Research fellow. "Sa ngayon actually nakikita natin more than 200,000 by end of August even with the slowing down of the trajectory."

[Translation: The 180,000 projection before was lower-bound, assuming that MECQ continues until the end of the month. Now, actually, we are seeing more than 200,000 by end of August even with the slowing down of the trajectory.]

However, the professor noted that the government's decision to impose the modified enhanced community quarantine during the first half of August helped slow down the rise in cases. The reproduction number - or the average number of people that a person can infect - decreased from 1.5 to 1.15, David pointed out.

He said the slower trend may still continue even if areas revert to the more relaxed general community quarantine, given that more protocols such as localized lockdowns and improved testing are being observed.

This comes even as the Department of Health in some days reports over 6,000 cases a day. COVID-19 cases in the country are already nearing the 158,000 mark.

"Actually pag-inaverage natin, we're getting mga 4,000 cases per day," the professor explained. "'Yung iba doon sa 6,000 ay actually backlog 'yun ng Department of Health."

[Translation: When we average it, we're getting 4,000 cases per day. The others from the 6,000 are part of the backlog of the Department of Health.]

However, he emphasized that this does not mean the Philippines has won over the pandemic. David also assured that the team has been cross-checking DOH data and not just basing projections on its daily reports.

"Mataas pa rin 'yung positivity rate - it's almost 20 percent - so it means marami pang cases na hindi natin nakikita," David warned. Positivity rate refers to the percentage of people testing positive.

[Translation: The positivity rate is still high - it's almost 20 percent - so it means there are a lot cases that we have not yet seen.]

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to announce a new quarantine status on Monday.