PH flattens COVID-19 curve, but public urged not to be ‘overly excited’ — research group

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6)— The Philippines has flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases, a group of researchers said, but warned the public against complacency amid the pandemic fight.

Speaking to CNN Philippines on Sunday, University of the Philippines professor and OCTA Research Team fellow Guido David said the country’s coronavirus reproductive rate— a statistic used to measure the rate of virus transmission— has decreased to a value less than one.

Actually na-flatten na siya,” David said in an interview with Newsroom Weekend, noting that the COVID-19 reproductive number has lowered to around 0.94 from 0.99 last week. “So nagde-decrease pa siya and that is very good news. Ibig sabihin, nasu-sustain natin ‘yung flattening of the curve.”

[Translation: Actually it has already flattened and that is very good news. It means we are sustaining the flattening of the curve.]

The reproductive number is an epidemiologic metric used to describe the “contagiousness” or transmission potential of infectious agents, according to the United States’ National Center for Biotechnology Information.

This represents the number of people who may be infected by a confirmed case. Ideally, this should be one or less, as anything higher means there is still significant community transmission, according to medical experts.

David, however, urged Filipinos not to be “overly excited” as he warned that the COVID-19 trends are subject to change and can be reversed “at any time.”

“We would like to remind people not to be overly excited dito sa flattening of the curve. Yes, we're seeing it pero (but) the trends are not irreversible… Ibig sabihin (meaning), we could have another surge,” David said.

“The virus is still here, we're still getting around 3,000 cases per day and so we have to sustain ‘yung (the) momentum, to sustain the gain. So we have to keep doing the right things and to not falter,” he added.

Aside from the virus’ reproductive figure, David said the positivity rate— one of the main data being studied and monitored by medical experts— is likewise going down. From averages of over 4,000 daily cases in mid-August, the country in the past few days has been reporting lower average number of infections at 3,000, he explained.

For the healthcare capacity aspect, the professor also noted that the COVID-19 bed occupancy rate in Metro Manila has also been decreasing.

Should NCR ease restrictions?

Despite the development, David urged the government to carefully evaluate any plan of easing restrictions in the capital region, which remains under general community quarantine until the end of September.

“If we ever relax to MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), we should evaluate this carefully, we should think about it carefully,” he stressed.

Coronavirus infections in the Philippines have spiked to over 230,000, with the Health Department listing 2,529 new cases on Saturday. Recoveries meanwhile increased to 161,668, while the virus death toll stood at 3,790.