Herbosa: UP team projects COVID-19 cases to peak in mid-September

Projections by experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) showed that COVID-19 cases will likely peak in September, a government adviser said Monday after the Philippines logged a record-high 22,366 new infections in a single day.

Dr. Ted Herbosa, special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said new cases were expected to reach high levels despite the imposition of stricter lockdowns in Metro Manila and several other areas.

Asked what could have gone wrong in the country’s pandemic response that led to a new all-time high in COVID-19 cases, Herbosa said: “Nothing. The virus or variant has a more transmissible character Ro (reproduction number) of 8-9.”

“In fact, [the] UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team projects our peak to be in mid-September or later,” he told GMA News Online. “But we can flatten it by masking, staying home, and vaccination. Also important to test trace and treat.”

Projections by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team showed that new COVID-19 cases could hit a low of 22,335 to a high of 33,503 on September 15. By September 30, the country could tally 24,476 to 36,714 fresh infections.

Herbosa added that while COVID-19 vaccines do not block transmission, they still offer protection against severe infection.

“Seventy to 80% of those admitted to ICUs are unvaccinated. The vaccination program with 45% of NCR vaccinated shielded [us] from a more steep rise in cases similar to those seen in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam,” he said.

The government adviser urged vaccination of vulnerable individuals like the elderly and persons with comorbidities, increased testing to around 120,000 per day, aggressive contact tracing, and granular lockdowns to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Health said last week that new COVID-19 case peaks were expected in the following weeks since the increase in cases earlier this year started in late February to early March but only peaked in the first week of April.

The Philippines recorded over 1.97 million COVID-19 cases with 1.79 million recoveries and 33,330 deaths as of Monday afternoon. — DVM, GMA News

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