UP research team projects 100,000 COVID-19 cases in PH by end of August

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 7, 2020   •   371

The University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research forecasts, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines to reach more than 100,000 by the end of August.

According to the research team, infection rate of COVID-19 cases in the country increased after recording 1.6 R0 during the general community quarantine (GCQ). The said number indicates that one infected individual can infect at least one other individual.

UP OCTA Research member and UP Mathematics professor Dr. Guido David said the projection for July is 60,000 to 70,000. He also reported that the R0 in the Philippines has increased.

“Kasi bumibilis ang transmissions natin during ECQ [Enhanced Community Quarantine] nasa 1 na iyong R-0 natin. During MECQ [Modified Enhanced Communnity Quarantine] medyo tumaas na siya nasa 1.1 to 1.2 and right now, nasa 1.6 na siya sa Philippines, (Because transmissions increased during the ECQ, our R-0 was at 1. During the MECQ, it increased to 1.1 to 1.2 and right now it is at 1.6),” he said.

David clarified, the numbers are only projections and not predictions which aim to alert the public to become more strict in following health and safety protocols.

The surge of cases, David added, can be avoided if the government re-evaluates health protocols for offices, gyms, including mass or religious gatherings and mass transportation.

“Right now especially since we have a lot of cases already, this could be problematic. The trajectory shows that the solutions that we have are not working. So we have to come up with better solutions for mass transport, mass transit and office infections,” he said.

The research group also said contact tracing would be difficult due to the number of people leaving their houses after the relaxation of community quarantine restrictions.

“If they go to a mall, if they go to a religious gathering and they have the virus, they don’t show the symptoms. Hindi natin siya ma-differentiate (we cannot differentiate them) from other people and possibly infect other people,” David said.

The group recommends that the government conduct randomized testing of up to 20,000 per day.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) advised the public to be responsible in leaving the house and to only do so if it is necessary.

“It can spread faster and overwhelm our healthcare system if we don’t double our control efforts and so it can lead to a higher number of overall deaths if we do not properly manage the number of infections. The virus leveled up. We have to level up as well, ” the DOH said in a statement. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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

Robie de Guzman   •   June 11, 2020

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)

UP climbs to 65th place among top universities in Asia

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 4, 2020

The University of the Philippines (UP) has climbed to the 65th rank among the top universities in Asia.

From its previous 95th ranking, UP moved up 30 points in the newly released 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University Rankings.

The THE Asia University Rankings uses Teaching, Research, Citations, International Outlook and Industry Income as criteria to rank universities, the same criteria used in World University Rankings.

“The national university has been featured in the THE Asia University Rankings since 2017. It entered the top 100 for the first time in 2019, soaring 61 places from its 156th position in 2018. In 2017, UP belonged to the 201st-250th ranking group,” according to UP. AAC

OVP purchases P14-M worth of COVID-19 test kits developed by UP scientists

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 24, 2020

The office of Vice President (OVP) Leni Robredo has purchased P14 million worth of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits developed by the scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP).

In a statement, the OVP said the test kits will be delivered to hospitals certified as laboratories for COVID-19 testing. These include San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, V. Luna Hospital, and Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory.

The testing kits will help in conducting a total of 10,000 tests.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) previously said the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and Philippine Genome Center aim to increase test kit production as well as increase COVID-19 testing capacity per day.

“With the deployment of the test kits, UP-NIH will increase its capacity to run more tests per day, as each unit of the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit can run 25 tests at once and provide results within two hours,” the DOST said in the statement.

Deputy Executive Director of the Philippine Genome Center Dr. Raul Destura said there is 8,000 to 10,000 tests produced daily and they aim to increase it by 16,000 tests per day by May 1. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)


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