Scientist backs lockdown extension, says PH needs 2-3 months to ‘flatten the curve’

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MANILA — A Filipino scientist is backing an extension of the Luzon-wide lockdown, saying it would take 2 to 3 months for the Philippines to flatten the curve or decrease the number of novel coronavirus infections. 

In an interview with ANC, Dr. Darwin Bandoy Assistant Professor of the University of California, Davis, said COVID-19 cases in the Philippines could go as high as 250,000 cases in a do-nothing situation.

“My model is a do-nothing scenario, meaning we don't implement lockdown, the peak number of cases in my estimate is around 250,000, that includes the asymptomatics but the approximate estimate is 1 to 3 percent of the 250,000 would be severe cases,” he said.

Extending the enhanced community quarantine, he said, would lessen the number of infections. 

“If we remove the enhanced community quarantine on April 13 and will resume to normal activity at April 14, the epidemic curve would rise again. So, based on these predictive models, I wouldn't recommend removing it so it should be extended…"

The scientist said government must implement physical distancing procedures in public transportation, disinfections, mass testing and increase in the number of ventilators. 

He warned the country has a limited number of ventilators for severe cases of COVID-19. “If our severe cases went beyond that, it would be like Italy. We would be selecting who will die or not,” he said.

“My estimate is that to prevent the current trajectory, we need a few more weeks and months to reduce that so that we will not overburden our healthcare, which is already struggling as of the moment,” he added.

He also rejected opening schools as of the moment "because based on several studies, opening schools would promote further spread of the disease."

"The estimate would be around 2 to 3 months before we could really flatten the curve but I'm still waiting for the current data," he added. 

ANC, April 2, 2020

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