“The curve can go up again if we let our guard down.” National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. issued this warning as he called on everyone not to be over confident in the wake of the flattening of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.
He said the goal now is to avoid a potential second wave of infection.
We do not want this to happen, he added. “We cannot be too confident, especially since there is still no vaccine to fight the disease,” he said.
The flattening of the COVID-19 curve comes as “a breath of fresh air” half a year into the country’s ongoing fight against an unseen but vicious virus.
It means that all our efforts to contain the spread of the disease and mitigate its impact are finally bearing fruit,” Galvez said.
According to University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research Team fellow Dr. David Guido, the country has already flattened the curve with the continuous downward trend in the number of reported cases and the decrease in R-nought, an indicator of how fast a single case can infect other individuals.
“This news should inspire us more to continue and even improve all the good things that we have started. As the saying goes, there are still lots of room for improvement. We must not rest on our laurels,” he added.
In a graph presented by Galvez, it showed that the number of new cases peaked on August 10 with 6,958. But it has since gradually decreased until September 4, in which the number of new cases reached only 1,797.
Galvez said the observations were evident in Calabarzon (Region-4A), which provinces were placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine along with the National Capital Region in August. From a peak of 1,584 new cases in August, Calabarzon has so far recorded 829 cases, Galvez said. In Central Visayas (Region 7), which covers Cebu City that saw a surge of cases in July, the new cases dropped to 46 as of September 4 from a peak of 997 on July 30.
The R-nought also went down from four in March to 0.94 presently, according to Galvez.
“These positive developments did not happen overnight. It took a lot of careful planning and painstaking effort between the national government, local government units, private sector, medical frontliners, and the general public,” he stressed.
To sustain the gains, the chief implementer said the government will continue to ramp up its testing, tracing, and treatment efforts.
As of September 5, Galvez said there are already 117 accredited COVID19 testing laboratories nationwide.
Through these laboratories, Galvez said a total of 2,772,075 samples from 2,601,281 individuals have been processed – the most number of COVID19 tests conducted in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, there are currently 20 mega temporary treatment facilities with a combined 3,285 bed capacity in the country. Galvez said the occupancy rate is at 58 percent, which means that 1,357 beds are still available for use.
A total of 28 isolation hotels with a combined capacity of 2,779 beds were also utilized to house positive cases. The occupancy rate is at 59 percent which means that there are still 1,147 available beds.
The government has also launched a campaign which aims to distribute 30 million face masks to poor communities, and areas with high number of COVID-19 cases, Galvez noted.
“We continue to remind the public to maintain proper hygiene and cleanliness of the environment. The use of face mask and face shields, frequent washing of hands, and the practice of social distancing must continue,” Galvez reminded.
Meanwhile, the UP experts urged the government to carefully review the lifting of restrictions and opening of some establishments to sustain the momentum in fighting the pandemic.
Professor Ranjit Rye, founder of the UP Octa Research Team, also reminded the public not to be too complacent in observing strict health protocols as the flattening of the curve does not mean that the heath crisis is over. (With a report from Alexandria Dennise San Juan)