The Philippines may see more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases by July 31, according to a study conducted by a group of experts.
The group is made up of University of the Philippines mathematics professor Dr. Guido David, UP political science assistant professor Ranjit Singh Rye, Ma. Patricia Agbulos from OCTA Research, and biology professor Rev. Fr. Nicanor Austriaco from Providence College and University of Santo Tomas. According to their study, the Philippines may see 1,300 deaths by July 31.
Metro Manila may see over 27,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of July.
Cebu, meanwhile, could see over 20,000 cases by the same date. The group said "Central Visayas, especially the City of Cebu, has significantly higher transmission rates than the rest of the country."
"Using the current value of Rt, based on the current number of cases in the Philippines (including the uncategorized cases) and assuming the trends continue, this projects to more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases by July 31, with 1,300 deaths. In NCR, the projection is 27,000 cases by July 31, while in the province of Cebu, the projection is 20,000 cases by July 31. We emphasize that the projected increase in cases and deaths can be prevented by rapidly identifying and breaking chains of viral transmission," the group said.
The group used data from the Department of Heath dated March 1 to June 25 to come up with the projections for July. They clarified that there is still a backlog in DOH data, and that there are 2,794 cases still left uncategorized.
At present, the country has a reproduction rate (Rt) of around 1.28. A number higher than 1 means the disease is still spreading, while a number lower than 1 means we’re flattening the curve.
The number of daily fresh cases in Metro Manila went from 271 under enhanced community quarantine, 396 during modified enhanced community quarantine, and up to 583 under general community quarantine.
This trend shows "an increase of 50% from one period to the next," the group said.
The spike in cases could be because of the country’s increasing testing capacity, but it can also mean COVID-19 is still spreading and affecting more individuals.
"This increase can be explained in part by the increase in testing capacity in the country especially since the positivity rate remains stable. Nonetheless, the positivity rate over the past two weeks is trending up suggesting that the pandemic is spreading more significantly," they said.
They also mentioned other regions that showed an increase in cases: "We believe that this uptick in the positivity rate reflects the current situation in Region VII: Central Visayas, which is experiencing a surge in infections."
Cebu City has also seen a spike in cases, and their reproduction rate estimate is almost 1.8—higher than that of Metro Manila’s.
As more areas in the country shift to a looser form of quarantine in order to restart the economy, the group warns that easing restrictions must be matched with measures that could help the spread of COVID-19, even as more people head out of their homes.
“The easing of quarantine restrictions must be matched with more pandemic surveillance, effective strategies for social distancing, and compliance with other health protocols including vigorous promotion of personal hygiene practices, wearing of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and increased testing, tracing, and isolation as the working population increases their exposure especially in high risk areas such as NCR and Cebu province,” the group said.