PH COVID-19 cases could reach 40,000 by June 30 if quarantine restrictions loosened, UP experts say

Robie de Guzman   •   June 11, 2020   •   345

MANILA, Philippines – The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country may increase to 40,000 by June 30 if quarantine restrictions will be eased further, a team of experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) said.

In a forum held on Thursday, the UP experts presented the data on the transmission of coronavirus which was based on the current trends of virus transmission in the country.

“Right now, ‘yung projection namin, ginamit lang naming yung R0 (pronounced as R naught) na 1.2 sa Philippines. So iyong projection actually is nasa 40,000 cases pa rin by June 30,” said Institute of Mathematics Professor Guido David, who is part of the UP OCTA Research Team which issues forecast report on COVID-19 since April.

“Kapag nagbago ang trends na iyan, magbabago ang projection pwedeng tumaas, pwedeng bumaba,” he added.

The reproduction number or R0 is used to gauge the transmission potential of the disease. It is the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease.

The Philippines currently has a reproduction number of 1.2, which means that an existing infection can cause one new infection.

Political Science Expert Ranjit Singh Rye, also a member of the UP OCTA Research Team, said that the current reproduction number may still go up if the community quarantine restrictions being implemented in the country will be lifted or further eased.

“Kumakalat pa iyong COVID-19, nakakahawa siya. Marami pang mahahawa kapag hindi tayo gagawa ng mga hakbang,” Rye said.

“Both national level, government level at level po ng indibidwal. Ang number one takeaway. Significant pa ang comunity transmission and marami pa tayo kailangan gawin para imanage yung COVID-19 pandemic sa bansa,” he added.

The country has so far recorded 23,732 coronavirus infections with 4,895 recoveries and 1,027 fatalities.

Metro Manila and other areas with high number of COVID-19 cases are under general community quarantine until June 15.

Malacañang earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte will announce on Monday the fate of the quarantine restrictions being enforced in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UP OCTA Research Team said it is not recommending the loosening of community quarantine for now as it may result in a spike of COVID-19 cases.

It also advised the Department of Health to monitor the situation and to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus, especially in areas where the transmission is evident.

The team also said that health protocols, such as social distancing, should continue to be observed by the public. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City Hall of Justice closed after 4 personnel contract COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Hall of Justice building and its annex will be temporarily shut down after four of its court officers and employees tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the city government announced on Friday.

The city government said Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the closure of the buildings for seven days of until the city’s Epidemiological and Disease Surveillance Unit (QC-ESU) has completed the appropriate testing and containment measures.

In her letter to Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Ace Alagar, Belmonte explained that her decision to temporarily shut down the Hall of Justice is to enforce measures during epidemic or outbreak to prevent spread of disease.

QC-ESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz said they will conduct exhaustive contact tracing of all those who were in close contact with the court officers and employees who were found positive and perform follow-up testing as necessary.

Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases shall be placed on home quarantine or isolation in a quarantine facility as feasible under the circumstances, he added.

Meanwhile, the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) started the thorough surface disinfection and misting of the whole City Hall complex.

The agency said the disinfection began on Thursday and will last until Sunday.

Bolsonaro vetos law on obligatory face masks in Brazil

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020


President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.

“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.

Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.

He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.

Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)


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