UP panel: Without intervention, COVID-19 cases will peak by May to June

Published April 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Alexandria Dennise San Juan

An extension of the enhanced or modified community quarantine would help flatten the curve of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country, a recent study from the University of the Philippines showed.


According to the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, if no intervention was done after the month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on April 12, the peak of the confirmed cases in the country is estimated to be seen by the end of April to June.

The team, which is mostly composed of mathematicians across different UP campuses, also projected that at least 140,000 up to 550,000 people will be infected by the disease in Metro Manila when left on its own.

These figures, the team explained, include those undetected, mild and asymptomatic cases “comprising probably 80% of the total.”

“A significant proportion of this estimate will not be detected unless they are tested. Hence, these estimates can guide testing capacity requirements for the succeeding months,” the group said.

Based on the study released on Monday, the team analyzed three possible scenarios after the scheduled lifting of the Luzon-wide ECQ on April 13 — no interventions, modified community quarantine, and continuation of the enhanced community quarantine.

In the graph prepared by the team, the scenario of no interventions after the supposed lifting of the ECQ would yield a curve with the highest possible peak estimated to be observed by end of April up to June.

A modified community quarantine, based on the graph, would also yield a peak but much lower than if there were no interventions, while extending the ECQ, without excluding particular areas, would flatten the curve the most.

The team emphasized that non-medical interventions may help control the further transmission of the virus and flatten the curve for our healthcare system to cope with cases on infected individuals.

These measures include work and school shutdown, requiring to use face masks even homemade masks with filter, frequent washing of hands, and social distancing.

“Community quarantine buys us time to beef up our healthcare system’s capacity, while limiting the reach of the disease. Thus, a modified, location-specific quarantine scenario can be explored in light of public healthcare realities on the ground (e.g. the number of ventilators, hospital beds) and possibly different peak periods across local government units (LGUs) throughout the country,” the team said.

These simulations, the team added, can be improved further with more detailed information gathered using online survey forms where each LGU can input data at barangay level on a daily basis.

“Hospital information on the number of people tested, recovered and other critical data for modeling should also be collected without delay to improve the analysis of the situation and expose areas where local community quarantine can be implemented,” it pointed out.

Apart from these, the group is also pushing for the immediate implementation of contact tracing with the aid of technologies that can do a rapid collection of data.

“The UP and its partners have built this kind of system using its infrastructure and is ready for deployment,” the team shared.

According to the group, the general welfare of the public should be considered as Filipinos living below the poverty line and those who cannot work under the current circumstances require adequate support to minimize economic hardship.

“The government should continue to pursue these actions for the country. We also urge the government to get detailed real-time information for improved science-based decisions to address our current crisis,” the team said.

“COVID-19 is not an invisible enemy. It leaves behind traces of itself, which we can use to get ahead of the curve and stop it in its tracks. But to get there, we have to gather—and share—as much data as possible, apply the best science available, and ultimately listen to what the numbers could tell us,” it added.