‘Doubling time’ of PH coronavirus cases slows to average of 5 days – DOH

JC Gotinga
‘Doubling time’ of PH coronavirus cases slows to average of 5 days – DOH
The coronavirus can be a 'traitor,' and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reminds everyone to continue practicing physical distancing and stringent personal hygiene

MANILA, Philippines – It now takes an average of 5 days for local coronavirus cases to double in number, and that is “good news,” said Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Tuesday, April 21.

Citing medical experts, Vergeire said this lengthening of the “doubling time” in the number of cases is a “big improvement” from the previous average, which was 3 days.

“According to the experts, the doubling time is slowing down. This means, if before the cases doubled within 3 days, now it takes longer. The average is now almost 5 days,” Vergeire said in Filipino in a televised briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

For instance, the DOH reported 707 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country on March 26. Three days later, on March 29, it had more than doubled to 1,418.

In contrast, from the 1,546 confirmed cases the DOH reported on March 30, the number did not reach double until 5 days later on April 4, with 3,094 confirmed cases.

Although the longer doubling time is a welcome development, she said the government’s goal is to prolong it to 30 days.

“That means, if yesterday, April 20, we had 6,000 cases, then we should only have 12,000 cases by May 20 if we want our doubling time to be 30 days,” she illustrated her point.

The DOH on Tuesday reported 6,599 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, with 437 deaths and 654 recoveries.

The number of local coronavirus cases first reached the 6,000 mark last Saturday, April 18, with 6,087 confirmed patients.

The virus can be a traitor

Vergeire reminded the public not to be complacent, warning that a relaxation of preventive measures such as physical distancing might bring about another spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Nakita natin sa ibang bansa na talagang puwedeng maging taksil o traydor ang coronavirus na kinakalaban natin sa ngayon. Sa panahong akala mo na natalo mo na siya, bigla siyang magbabalik at maghahasik ng lagim, lalo na kung nakalimutan na ng mga tao ang physical distancing, paghugas ng kamay, pag-ubo nang tama, at paglinis ng mga surfaces na palagiang nahahawakan,” she said.

(We have seen in other countries that the coronavirus we are battling now can really be a traitor. Just when you think you’ve beaten it, it suddenly resurges and wreaks havoc, especially if people have forgotten physical distancing, washing their hands, coughing the proper way, and cleaning surfaces that often get touched.)  

The DOH spokesperson also reiterated that the goal of the “enhanced community quarantine” or lockdown of Luzon and many other parts of the country is not meant to bring cases to zero, but to slow down the inevitable spread of the virus just so the healthcare system can keep up with the number of patients.

Vergeire noted that most of the new recorded cases of the disease were still mostly in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), and that some 30 provinces have very few cases with long doubling times, or none at all.

She urged these provinces to be careful and vigilant to prevent their numbers from spiking. – Rappler.com

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.