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Duque claims Philippines has flattened COVID-19 curve then takes it back

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday claimed the Philippines has succeeded in flattening the curve amid the COVID-19 pandemic, only to take it back later and admitted that the number of cases is still rising.

Duque made the pronouncements just two days after over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the country.

“We have successfully flattened the curve since April. The reason for arriving at this conclusion is longer case doubling time of COVID-19,” Duque said at a forum.

“The case doubling time is 2.5 days during the initial phase of the pandemic,” Duque added.

Another metric for such observation, Duque said, is longer mortality doubling time. 

“The mortality doubling time is now longer and is now [considered] moderate risk classification,” Duque said. 

Duque, however, was quick to change his mind about his claim on flattening the curve and admitted that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising.

“Paumanhin po sa confusion na resulta ng aking earlier statement, nalito lang po ako sa tanong. Iyong longer case doubling time which is eight days, ibig sabihin po nito, nailiko na, nasimulan na nating nailiko o naikurba na natin ang epidemic curve nung [nagkaron ng] imposition ng ECQ noong March,” Duque said.

“Now, we are seeing an increase in cases dahil sa expanded testing and community transmission as we allow more movement of people, dahil nagluwag na po tayo ng restrictions,” Duque added.

Duque was referring to the transitioning of Metro Manila to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) last June 1—a protocol that allows 75% of the workforce of each company to physically go to work, provided that social distancing is observed.

Duque said that the rise in COVID-19 cases amid eased restrictions was also experienced in Iran, Serbia and  Japan.

“This is expected, as we open up the economy. What is important is we maintain the cases at manageable level para ang ating health care system at health workers ay hindi ma-overwhelm,” Duque said.

“Time and again, we remind everyone to follow health protocols to contain the spread of the virus,” Duque added.

Duque said that the government will scale up its pandemic response and its protection of the vulnerable amid the pandemic.

He said the DOH has procured over six million Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers, of which four million have already been distributed.

The Philippines has recorded 57,006 COVID-19 cases so far, 20, 371 of them recovered while 1,599 died.

While the active cases is at 35,036, the suspect COVID-19 case—meaning those awaiting results and those who are yet to be tested—is at 38,396. 

On Tuesday, Duque said that the case doubling time in Metro Manila—where over 12,000 COVID-19 cases are—is 8 to 12 days .  

Last May, Duque drew flak for saying that the country is now experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Health department later rectified his pronouncement and clarified that the country is still in first wave. -MDM, GMA News