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DOH exec: There are ‘indications’ COVID-19 curve is flattening in Philippines

While it is too early to say that the Philippines has already flattened the COVID-19 curve due to data limitations, the Department of Health said Thursday that there are indications supporting such observation.

"Too early to say, hindi pa natin 'yan masabi with all of these things that we are doing, wala pa tayo doon sa punto na puwede na tayong makapag-analyze at makapagsabi that we have already flattened the curve," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

According to Vergeire, the daily tally that the DOH releases is not yet real-time.

"Hindi pa rin talaga tayo real-time. Ang ating turnaround time ay mayroon pa rin tayong gap so hindi pa rin siya real-time," she said.

Nonetheless, Vergeire reiterated that as observed in the available data, the case doubling time of COVID-19 in the country has slowed down to five days from the previous pattern of three days.

"Mentras bumabagal ang case doubling time, mas magandang indikasyon iyon kasi ibig sabihin hindi ganoon [kabilis] ang pagtaas ng numero ng kaso," she said.

Dr. Beverly Ho, OIC- Director IV for Health Promotion and Communication Service, further explained that the DOH does not categorically state that the curve is already flattening because it acknowledges the data limitations.

"Why are we so careful about it? It's because we know the issues with the data as well. We know the limitations. To call it as such would be irresponsible from our end," Ho said.

"But if you're talking about indications that it is flattening, yes it is," she added.

The DOH has already given a presentation of the health crisis situation to President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday, but a recommendation will be submitted to the Palace early next week for guidance on implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, according to Vergeire.

'Clearer picture'

Once the testing capacities of laboratories have been strengthened, a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation can be expected.

"Ang ating goal is by April 30, maka-reach tayo ng at least 8,000 tests per day. Once we can do that, we will be able to somehow detect 'yung tamang detection at makikita na natin 'yung actual picture," Vergeire said.

Last week, the country's daily testing capacity was at 4,000 but because of the scaled-down operations of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, it has gone down to 2,800 tests daily.

"Pero simula kahapon nakarating na ulit tayo sa 3,200. Hopefully in the coming days tataas pa lalo dahil slowly bumabalik na ang RITM sa kanilang operational capacity and hopefully by Saturday babalik na tayo doon sa dati nating nagagawa," Vergeire said.

As of April 22, the Philippines recorded a total of 6,170 cases of COVID-19, with 446 deaths and 693 recoveries. — RSJ/KBK, GMA News