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UP expert: NCR, Calabarzon have flattened COVID-19 curve, but don’t get excited

The transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines has slowed with Metro Manila and Calabarzon flattening the curve of infections, an expert from the University of the Philippines (UP)-OCTA Research team said Sunday.

“‘Flattening the curve,’ when we say that, our basis is reproduction number. [It] has decreased to less than 1,” Professor Guido David said in a “24 Oras Weekend” report by Dano Tingcungco.

The reproduction number refers to the number of people that one COVID-19 patient can infect.

“The value right now in NCR is 0.94, so less than 1 na siya. Last week it was 0.99, so we’re definitely seeing [a] flattening of the curve in NCR and Calabarzon,” he added.

Earlier on Sunday, David told CNN Philippines that the country had already flattened the curve.

“Actually, na-flatten na siya and we said around two weeks ago na we are seeing a flattening of the curve by the end of August or early September,” he said when asked whether Filipinos can expect a flattened curve soon. 

However, the Philippines’ positivity rate remains high at 10.6 percent— double the World Health Organization’s benchmark of 5 percent or lower.

David added that the COVID-19 bed occupancy rate in Metro Manila is also on a downward trend but still remains in the critical zone.

“Medyo critical levels pa rin in many LGUs pero at least decreasing na siya, so we think magkakaroon na ng relief ‘yung hospitals natin soon if the trend continues nitong reproduction number na decreasing,” he explained.

The Philippines has logged 237,365 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday afternoon, marking the fourth time in five days that the number of new infections fell below 3,000. 

Surge still possible

However, the UP expert also reminded the public that a flattened curve is not irreversible.

“Of course, we would like to remind people not to be overly excited dito sa flattening of the curve. Yes, we’re seeing it, pero the trends are not irreversible. We can always reverse the trend at any time. Ibig sabihin, we can have another surge,” he warned.

David also urged the government to carefully evaluate any proposal to loosen restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby areas to a modified general community quarantine.

“‘Wag tayo na lang maging excited na, ‘Oh, trends are looking good, so let’s loosen restrictions.’ I’m not saying we can’t, pero we have to evaluate this carefully,” he said. — BM, GMA News