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PH COVID-19 cases could hit 800K by end of 2021 even if isolation efforts are sustained

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 28, 2020 1:20 am Updated Dec 28, 2020 9:44 am

The COVID-19 cases in the Philippines are predicted to inflate at 800,000 by end of 2021, according to the simulation study conducted by the University of the Philippines COVID-19 Response Team.

The results published Dec. 27 show that the country will reach an average of 700,000 to one million cases and 18,000 deaths by December 2021, excluding unreported cases.

This is based on the 1,000 scenarios fitted to actual data as of Dec. 25 and on the presumption that the country’s ongoing efforts in testing, contact tracing, and isolation will be sustained in the ‘new normal.’ 

Professor Jomar Rabajante of the UP COVID-19 Response Team said plans to resume in the ‘new normal’ were also weighed in the study.

“The range of simulation results depends on physical school opening or closures, opening of economy (80%-100% open); and 0-40% compliance of citizens to minimum health standards (e.g., wearing of protective gears, and avoidance of crowd),” he wrote on a Facebook post on Sunday.

He continued, “Increased infectiousness of the virus, and vaccination are also considered in the simulation scenarios. The vaccination program starts in mid-2021 with maximum 1,500 complete vaccinations per day. (This assumption will be changed once the vaccination program guideline is published.)” 

Rabajante added that if testing, contact tracing, isolation, and compliance to minimum health standards are to be sustained next year, the country’s epidemic curve would follow a “continuous declining trend in 2021.”

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte earlier revoked the order allowing face-to-face classes by January next year, following reports on the new COVID-19 strain, which United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “may be up to 70 percent more transmissible.”

“I am cancelling the order given a few weeks ago to the education department. I am suspending the face-to-face classes among children,” said Duterte in a meeting on Saturday, Dec. 26.

In the same meeting, the President said that many people in the Philippines, including some members of the military, have already received the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, although the country’s regulators are yet to approve it.

Dr. Edsel Salvaña, member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) technical advisory group, likewise said that the Department of Health (DOH) is still doubtful if the existing vaccines could combat the new strain of the virus. 

The country has a total of 469,886 reported COVID-19 cases as of Dec. 27. 22,0999 are active, 438,678 have recovered, and 9,109 are deceased.