MANILA - The Philippines is flattening the COVID-19 pandemic curve, one of the government's special advisers on the virus said Monday.
The country's healthcare system is "now able to cope" with the new cases of the novel coronavirus, according to Ted Herbosa, who also serves as the executive vice president of the University of the Philippines.
"Our curve is flattening, that’s what I can tell you. I’ve seen the curve in international comparisons and we’re actually flattening the curve," he told ANC.
"We’re not the best curve in the Asian region but it’s actually lower than Indonesia. And the other countries are doing much better only because their health systems are much different than ours."
The decreasing number of deaths, the rise of recoveries from the illness, and the slow doubling time of COVID-19 cases are "all good signs that the curve has flattened," Herbosa said.
"When we say the curve is flattened, that doesn’t mean the disease is already gone. The disease is still there, there’s still transmission... I think our reproductive number is still 0.9, less than 1 already. But the fact that there’s still reproduction happening, the fight isn’t over. We need 0 transmission, 0 deaths, and 0 new cases," he said.
Herbosa said the country was still facing its first wave of the pandemic, with imported cases of transmission as the biggest threat.
"Whatever wave number this is, we must be sure there will not be a next wave that will overwhelm the health system," he said.
"Our biggest threat is outside inoculation again. Remember, we're having about 2,000 OFWs returning home for their jobs abroad... Any one of those can start an outbreak if not detected, isolated early."
The country, however, still needs to increase its testing capacity, Herbosa said.
"I think we’re over the 11,000 tests a day which is about significant for our level of population. That’s the minimum number we should be testing... I do hope were able to do more tests. The tests of other countries are like ten times the number we’ve done," he said.
"I think what’s important is we continue at our path, because, at this current path, we’re doing well, we’re at the deceleration part of the epidemic curve."
Malacañang on Monday said the Philippines has achieved its target of 30,000 daily coronavirus tests but data from the Department of Health showed government conducted only an average of 8,000 tests daily in recent days.
As of May 17, there are 35 accredited laboratories nationwide to run testing for the coronavirus. Herbosa said the target is to have 50 laboratories.
The Philippines has so far recorded 14,035 cases of COVID-19, with 3,249 recoveries and 868 deaths.