‘No reason to celebrate’: PH won’t beat university researchers’ COVID-19 forecast by end-July, Palace admits

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29)— There will be no congratulatory remarks from Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque this July as he said the country won’t likely beat university researchers’ latest COVID-19 case forecast.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Roque admitted the country’s coronavirus infections will likely exceed the 85,000 end-July case prediction of researchers from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas. As of July 28, the Philippines has reported 83,673 confirmed cases of the infectious disease.

“I’m sad to say, we’re not (beating the end-July forecast). To those who made fun of my excitement, you got what you wanted. The forecast happened and I see no reason why we should celebrate,” Roque said in an interview with The Source.

The group of UP researchers initially projected 60,000 to 70,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide by the end of the month, but raised the prediction after seeing an increase in the reproduction rate of the virus.

Roque earlier drew flak for congratulating he Philippines in June, when the country “beat” UP’s 40,000 cases forecast. Netizens questioned the need for praise, when the country continues to record rising number of infections.

The spokesperson, however, defended his remark, saying it aimed to serve as a constant reminder to people that the coronavirus battle can be fought and won.

READ: Roque defends ‘Congratulations, Philippines’ remark amid backlash: I’ll keep doing it to encourage people

In the past few weeks, the country has been seeing daily spikes in COVID-19 infections. Officials have attributed the increase to stronger testing capacities.

Roque, for his part, remains optimistic that the country— particularly Metro Manila— can see a reduced rate of virus transmission in the near future.

“We should always aim to beat the forecast, because we have the tools. It can happen. It happened in Cebu already, that they were able to reduce the transmission. Since Cebu was able to do it, we should be able to do it in Metro Manila as well,” Roque said.