What Flattening the COVID-19 Curve Really Means
PH is starting to flatten the curve
The Department of Health (DOH) has reported on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, that the country is starting to flatten the COVID-19 curve after a month and a half of being under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
But What does flattening the COVID-19 curve really mean?
Dr. John Wong, an epidemiologist and member of the IATF’s technical working group on data analytics, has explained how we know the country is flattening the curve.
According to Dr. Wong, collective data shows that the doubling time has increased significantly for both new cases and deaths.
What does this mean?
An increased doubling time means that the rate of increase for both new cases and death has slowed down. Because in measuring the doubling time or the duration in days for cases or deaths to double, lower numbers mean faster outbreaks, while higher numbers mean slower outbreaks.
The country’s general case doubling time shows that cases double almost every 4-5 days according to Dr. Wong. Except for NCR and its neighboring provinces, the rest of the three regions placed under ECQ—Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao—all recorded at least seven days mortality doubling time.
On the Effect of the ECQ
Despite the fact that the number of cases and deaths started to increase fast, Dr. Wong explained that the ECQ has significantly slowed down the speed of transmission, hence flattening the curve.
“When April 1 came around, when the ECQ took effect, you’ll see that the curve has started to flatten. From doubling every less than three days, now it is doubling around four days,” said Dr. John Wong while presenting a graph of the case-doubling time in Luzon in a media forum last Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
Although we will not be seeing fewer cases just yet, Dr. Wong said that he is confident that as we ramp up testing nationwide, the overall strategy against COVID-19 is working— buying the health system more time until a vaccine or cure is developed.
Flattening the Curve: Not a Reason to be Complacent
While we have already started to flatten the COVID-19 curve in the Philippines based on DOH’s report, it’s not a reason to be complacent. Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario warned of a resurgence of cases when the ECQ is lifted and people start being complacent about social distancing.
“Hindi po tayo dapat makampante. Hindi pa po tapos ang ating laban. Maliban sa pagpapalakas ng ating national testing capacity, patuloy po nating pagtutuunan ng pansin ang mga quarantine protocols, proper sanitation, physical distancing, paggamit ng PPEs tulad ng masks, at iba pang mga preventive measures,” Dr. Rosario said.
On the other hand, Dr. Wong said, “We have to observe all the mitigation measures and that’s how we delay the appearance of a third wave.”