#DuqueResign calls revived after claim on flattened curve

July 15, 2020 - 7:52 PM
Franciso Duque
Undated photo of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III issued a clarification about his remarks that the country has “successfully flattened the curve” of COVID-19 cases “since April.”

The health chief in the government’s pre-SONA forum on Wednesday said that his definition was based on the longer case doubling time or how fast the number of infections double in an area.

He added that it was also based on the longer mortality doubling time which he said was now on “moderate risk classification.”

Dr. Tony Leachon, health reform advocate and former special adviser to the National Task Force on COVID-19, didn’t share Duque’s remarks and pointed out that the country has not yet flattened the curve based on the continuous rise of cases.

“I don’t think we have flattened the curve based on our increase in cases, number of deaths, and full critical care capacity of NCR (National Capital Region) and Cebu hospitals,” he tweeted.

The same insights were expressed by ABS-CBN data analyst Edson Guido, as well as statistics associate professor Peter Cayton, who also does epidemiology statistics with the University of the Philippines’ COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team.

Guido shared a link of John Hopkins University‘s (JHU) definition of “flattening the curve” while Cayton shared a graph he made that had no indication of a flat curve.

“On a trend line of total cases, a flattened curve looks how it sounds: flat. On the charts on this page, which show new cases per day, a flattened curve will show a downward trend in the number of daily new cases,” JHU’s Coronavirus Resource Center said.

“While there’s an improvement in case DOUBLING time, we’re still seeing more cases each day,” Guido tweeted.

He also said that the “positivity rate” of the National Capital Region has increased to 13.4% from July 7 to 13.

Meanwhile, Cayton shared a graph of COVID-19 cases based on the estimated date of onset.

“Ignore the point the last portion where the line drops, because again, data delays in validation and testing. As one can see, the cases have seemingly (been) growing at an increasing rate, bar again the last 9 days or so of the data,” he said of the graph that shows cases since March.

Duque later took to social media to clarify his “flattening the curve” remark following the criticisms and said that the country has “bent the curve in April” after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented in Luzon.

“Our case doubling time (CDT) in April passed the 3 day doubling time mark; NOW, July 15 – it is at 8 days CDT (past the 7-day doubling time mark),” he tweeted.

Before Luzon was placed under ECQ, the strictest quarantine level, in March, figures from the health department show that the average case doubling time nationwide was 2.5 days. It now takes 8.18 days for the number of cases to double across the country.

Duque said that the curve has “bent” after March’s hard lockdown but added that they are now “seeing an increased in cases due to the expanded testing capacity and community transmission as we allow movement of people.”

“Ang mahalaga ay ma-maintain ang bilang ng mga kaso at manageable levels para hindi natin ma-overwhelm at mapagod ang ating healthcare workers,” he added.

‘#DuqueResign’ calls gain traction 

The name of Duque landed on local Twitter’s top trending list on Wednesday afternoon after his controversial remark, where some Filipinos renewed their calls for him to resign.

Twitter Philippines’ top trending list as of the afternoon of July 15, 2020. (Screengrab by Interaksyon)

“I believe Mr. Duque is hallucinating… please save him from hell. He really not fit for the job. QUIT NOW please do it as favor to the millions of Filipinos. #DuqueResign,” a Twitter user wrote in response to the health chief’s statements.

“Kung kailangan niyo po i-clarify yung mga statements na binibitawan niyo, ibig sabihin hindi concrete yung mga pinagsasabi niyo, therefore p**angina niyo diyan kasi wala kayong kwenta wala nang naniniwala sa inyo. #DuqueResign,” another online user said.

Na-**lol na yata si Duque. Di marunong magbasa ng graph jusko. Kahit bata alam na hindi flat yung curve sa graph. Mag resign ka na lang kapit tuko ka pa sa posisyon mo di mo nagagampanan ng maayos. #DuqueResign,” wrote another Filipino. 

This was not the first time that Duque confused the public with his words as a top health official.

Last May, he said that the country was on its supposed second wave of COVID-19 but it was refuted by medical experts and Cabinet officials who said that the epidemiological curve has not yet been flattened.

Duque eventually took back his words and said that the nation was still on the first wave of the outbreak.

Last month, calls for him to vacate his position also gained traction on social media after he blamed his subordinates on national television about the delay on infected frontliners’ cash assistance.

READ:#ResignDuque trends anew as DOH chief takes responsibility after blaming subordinates on TV

Duque was previously asked to leave his post by at least 14 senators who accused him of his supposed “lack of competence, efficiency, and foresight bordering on negligence” in terms of handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.