U.P. study: Cebu may have 30 thousand cases by July 31

(The Freeman) – July 7, 2020 – 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  If quarantine measures are relaxed, the number of coronavirus cases in Cebu will surge to 20,000 to 30,000 by end-July, projections of the University of Philippines Research team showed.

UP Research said Cebu City had about 3,400 cases as of June 8.  That number nearly doubled to more than 6,400 by June 25.

The implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Cebu City since June 16 has slowed down the cases that by June 30, the city was able to beat UP projection of 11,000. Data from the Department of Health-7 showed only 8,660 cases as of the end of last month.

“Assuming a continued decrease in transmissions due to ECQ, this projects to 15,000 cases in the province of Cebu (including Cebu City) by July 31,” UP’s latest forecast said. However, “if quarantine measures are relaxed, we could see a surge of 20,000 to 30,000 cases in Cebu by July 31.”

Although the reproduction number (Rt) in Cebu province has decreased from 2.0 since the previous report, the value of Rt in Cebu from June 16 has been decreasing, indicating that transmissions remain high but the pandemic is slowing down.

‘High-Risk’ still

UP Research said with an average reproduction number Rt during the ECQ of 1.8, Cebu province remains a high-risk area.

The implementation of interventions by the national and local government in Cebu from June 16 has reduced the rate of transmission and the value of the reproduction number Rt.

In UP’s view, the national and local projections represent a significant increase in transmissions and is a serious cause for concern that needs to be examined and given appropriate and immediate response by the government and they recommend that the government review its national strategy to combat COVID-19 in the country.

The government, it said, must re-examine and re-calibrate its strategies to ensure that the transmission of SARS-CoV2 virus does not further increase beyond the capacity of the health care system to respond.

This requires having clear targets to measure whether the strategies are working, such as keeping positivity rates low (below 7%), and active cases trending down.

“Furthermore, the easing of quarantine restrictions must be matched with more pandemic surveillance, effective strategies for social distancing, and compliance with other health protocols including vigorous promotion of personal hygiene practices, wearing of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and increased testing, tracing, and isolation as the working population increases their exposure especially in high risk areas such as NCR and Cebu.”

Earlier, Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez said stringent measures are still needed in Cebu City, prompting an extension of the ECQ status up to this time.

‘Somehow Stabilized’

In yesterday’s weekly presser, DOH-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said the critical care utilization rate here has somehow stabilized.

In their monitoring, government hospitals’ isolation bed utilization is 59.2%; severe cases, 52.6%; COVID ICU beds, 50%; COVID ward, 5.9%; and none for mechanical ventilators.

In private hospitals, isolation bed utilization is 74.3%; severe cases, 67.5%; severe and critically ill, 65.8%; COVID ward, 56.3%; COVID ICU, 51.5%; and those on mechanical ventilators, 45.2%.

“Di ta kaingon nga atong CCU has improved or has worsened. Murag nag-stabilize siya. If you notice, the figures I was mentioning are a lot better than previous weeks,” said Loreche.

Rising Deaths

In an online meeting with Cebu City Council yesterday, IATF Cebu overseer Secretary Roy Cimatu expressed concern on the rising number of deaths recorded in Cebu City.

He also urged city government to prepare for the quarantine category by July 16 and forecast on what actions or measures to take if the city’s status will be downgraded from ECQ to GCQ.

He asked the councilors to prepare the necessary protocols and other safety and health measures and the ordinances to be passed.

Cimatu also urged the city to continue to implement the zonal or granular lockdowns even if the rest of the city gets a GCQ status.

He posed a challenge to the City Council to enact ordinances consistent with the National IATF policies and guidelines without confusing the people as he said barangays should be empowered to take on the responsibility and accountability/

He said he did not want a similar situation happening in Metro Manila on the sudden surge of new cases during GCQ. JMD (FREEMAN)




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