The Philippines may hit a record-high of one million Covid19 cases by the end of the month, the OCTA Research group said last week, prompting the World Health Organization to express concern that the country’s healthcare system is approaching the “red line.”
Research fellow Dr. Guido David said that although reverting to a hard lockdown has brought a decrease in the viral reproduction number (from 1.9 to 1.6) and growth rate (from 50 to 60% down to 20%), the country could still log 11,000 or 12,000 new cases per day for the following weeks.
According to him, a reduction in the upward trend will be observed before achieving a downward trend.
“The cases are still increasing, but the rate of increase is slowing down,” said David. “Hopefully with the additional one week [enhanced community quarantine], we can reduce further the reproduction number to 1 or close to 1.”
It is the group’s hope that alongside the lockdown, the government will enforce, more strictly, quarantine protocols and restrictions on mobility.
Last March 29, the National Capital Region including Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal returned to ECQ over a worrying increase in new daily infections. The one-week lockdown was extended another seven days, from April 5 to 11, per the recommendations of health experts.
The Philippines has borne the worst Covid surge compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, a situation which could develop into a humanitarian crisis, according to Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
Hospitals in Metro Manila have had to choose which patients to admit based on their triage process, turning away the rest. Many patients have had to wait in line to be admitted, if at all, while others sometimes in isolation tents outside the hospital.
Vaccination rates in the Philippines are also lagging, according to World Bank figures. The country has only given 0.2 doses for every 100 people as of mid-March, as opposed to countries like Malaysia, which has administered 1.1 doses per 100 people, and Indonesia which has given 2.4 doses per 100 people.