‘In trouble’: US epidemiologist raises alarm over COVID-19 cases surge in Philippines

March 15, 2021 - 4:11 PM
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A vendor wearing a protective face mask, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), cycles past a flower market in Manila, Philippines, March 12, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

“Philippines is in trouble.”

This was what an American epidemiologist tweeted after seeing the graphs showing the current COVID-19 situation of the country.

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, who is also a health economist and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, shared a graph of the country’s epidemic curve posted by ABS-CBN data analyst Edson Guido on March 13.

It was the day when the Philippines recorded its highest daily tally of COVID-19 cases—5,000 new cases—so far this year. The last time it breached that count was on Aug. 26, 2020, according to Guido’s analysis.

Guido observed an upward trend in new cases reported from March 10 to March 13 and reminded the public to “keep safe.”

The Philippines recorded the following number of new cases within those dates:

  • March 10: 2,886 cases 
  • March 11: 3,746 
  • March 12: 4,578 
  • March 13: 5,000

Feigl-Ding likewise shared his insight on the Philippine COVID-19 cases trend.

“Worrisome trend in just 4 days?” the epidemiologist wrote.

“Philippines is trouble. Somehow, it’s usually the places headed by you-know-what type of leaders with these surges these days,” he added.

Feigl-Ding also saw Guido’s graphs on the country’s testing as of March 12 where the latter said that the daily positivity rate was at its “highest in 7 months” or since August 16 of last year.

“A high positivity rate implies that there is transmission happening on the ground and we need to TEST even more,” Guido said.

The epidemiologist took note of this and said that it’s a “real increase” since the cases were rising despite the COVID-19 testing “not surging.”

“Pretty large almost doubling of cases in just 4-5 days in another autocratic led country,” Feigl-Ding said in another tweet, referring to the Philippines while he shared some thoughts about the pandemic.

Dr. Tony Leachon, a former special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, saw the US epidemiologist’s tweet and said that the Philippines is in a “huge crisis” despite being a year on community quarantine.

He added that the country needed to do the following in the wake of the continued surge: Have a “quick coordinated response system” that is based on science, strictly enforce restrictions on movement done by authorities and practice “exceptional leadership and governance.”

Last Sunday, Guido said that the Philippines recorded “the highest number of new cases in Southeast Asia for the second straight day” as it logged 4,899 cases.

The first day was on March 13, when the country logged 5,000 new cases.

A member of the OCTA Research Team said that the Philippines might see a surge of daily cases that could reach 7,000 to 8,000 by the end of March, based on the current reproductive rate of the virus.

If the trend continues, the daily tally of new cases might reach 18,000 to 20,000 by mid-April, based on estimates.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David said that based on the experiences of other countries, COVID-19 cases have started to drop after vaccinating 25 to 50 percent of its population against the viral disease.

The country has so far rolled out COVID-19 vaccines by Sinovac and AstraZeneca from China and Britain, respectively.