COVID-19 cases may reach 40K by June

June 11, 2020

THE number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases might see an increase of up to 40,000 by end of the month if the country's current reproduction number at 1.2 remains, an expert from the University of the Philippines (UP) said Thursday.

If the R0, pronounced as R-naught, or the average number of secondary infections from a single case is less than one, the epidemic curve is flattening, but a number higher than 1 means the virus is spreading.

"Right now, our projection is -- we used the R-naught 1.2 -- around 40,000 by June 30. We assumed that the R-naught is 1.2 so if it slows down -- it's decreasing actually -- the cases would be lesser," UP Institute of Mathematics Professor Guido David said during the virtual Department of Health press briefing on Thursday.

Based on the data that David presented, the country's R0 in early April was above 2 and eventually hovered down to around 1. However, by the end of May, it rose again to 2.

"Since then, bumababa na siya ulit and ngayon, currently, nasa around 1.2 siya sa buong Philippines (Since then, it has been slowing down and now it's around 1.2 in the entire Philippines)," he said, adding that this may be driven by the slight stabilization in the rate of infection.

Ranjit Singh Rye, associate professor at the UP Department of Political Science, warned that the threat of Covid-19 is still present.

"It's still a significant number that the government must take seriously and (must consider to) design appropriate and timely measures to respond to," he said.

The UP professor said it was significant for the government to look at this number and "scale up" its strategies for testing, tracing and treatment.

He noted that contact tracing remains the Philippines' "weakest link" as far as the strategy against the disease is concerned.

"I think the government is responding by hiring more and more personnel. (Meanwhile) on an individual level, we need to improve our strategies for social distancing," he said. PNA