PH COVID-19 cases breach UP forecast

Published July 17, 2020, 2:32 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

DOH: No proof those who recovered are protected from second infection

Malacañang is saddened that the Philippines has surpassed the prediction of the University of the Philippines (UP) that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country would reach 60,000 by the end of the month. 

A member of the police manning a checkpoint asks to see the quarantine pass of a resident in Navotas in suburban Manila on July 16, 2020, after the local government reimposed a lockdown in the city due to increased COVID-19 infections. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Thursday that the Philippines has now recorded a total of 61,266 COVID-19 cases.

Despite the quick rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, Roque said that the Philippines’ strategy in containing the disease has been effective because the situation would have been worse if the government did not do anything. 

“The strategy is working because if we did not do anything, then millions of Filipinos would have already been infected by the disease,” he said in Filipino. 

In an interview with state-run PTV-4, Roque said it was saddening that the Philippines has already breached the prediction mid-July. 

“The month’s not yet over and it already breached the prediction,” he said Friday. 

“This is very saddening and now they’ve updated their prediction that more will get COVID-19,” he added. 

The University of the Philippines has predicted this week that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country would reach 80,000 by the end of the month. 

After initially allowing home quarantine, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has shifted to placing mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases under quarantine facilities to prevent further spread of the dreaded disease. 

Roque reiterated the government’s appeal to the public to cooperate and observe minimum public health standards. 

“What’s important now is for everyone to cooperate,” he said. 

“The fate of our health is in our hands,” he added.

Second infection

As this developed, the Department of Health (DOH) said there is no proof yet that those who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from contracting a second infection. 

“According to the WHO, there is no strong evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

Vergeire said that “despite continuous efforts” by the global scientific community to study the virus that causes COVID-19, “there is still a lot to be discovered about the disease.” 

The health official was reacting to a TV news report that neonatal pediatrician Dr. Karen Abat-Senen, who had recovered from COVID-19, tested positive anew. Senen is currently being treated at the Philippine General Hospital on Taft Ave. in Manila. 

“The WHO continues to review the evidence on antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Vergeire. 

“The strong relationship of having antibodies and clinical improvement are being studied,” she added. 

Vergeire urged the public to stay vigilant and observe the necessary basic precautions, such as wearing a mask and proper hand hygiene, to reduce the chances of being infected. 

“Because the COVID-19 virus is so dynamic, we always remind the public that prevention is still better than cure. If there is nothing important to do (outside), just stay at home. Follow the minimum health standards for self-protection and also for our loved ones,” she said. 

Abalos couple COVID-positive

Meanwhile, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. and his wife Corazon, tested positive for COVID-19. 

Mandaluyong City Councilor Charisse Marie Abalos-Vargas, the couple’s grangdauther; and City Public Information Office chief Jimmy Isidro confirmed this Friday. 

“Chairman Ben Abalos and his wife, Corazon Abalos, have just tested positive for COVID,” Abalos-Vargas said in a message to Manila Bulletin. 

“We are now conducting tracing. For now, we would like to ask for privacy and prayers,” she added Abalos Sr., 84, served as chairman of Comelec from 2002 to 2007. 

He also headed the Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) from 2001 to 2002. From 1988 to 1998, he served as the mayor of Mandaluyong City and was succeeded by his son, Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. (With reports from Analou de Vera and Jhon Aldrin Casinas)