The Philippines is beginning to flatten the curve. This was reiterated in the May 6 Beat COVID-19 Virtual Presser with Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire and Dr. John Wong, an epidemiologist with the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) sub-technical working group on data analytics.

“Lahat po ng ating mga sakripisyo nitong nakaraang linggo ay hindi napunta sa wala. Nakikitaan na po natin ng mga senyales na napa-flatten na natin ang curve. Ibig pong sabihin, dahil sa ating pagtutulungan at pakikiisa sa mga inisyatiba ng gobyerno, nasimulan na nating pabagalin ang pagdami ng mga kumpirmadong kaso ng COVID-19 upang hindi ma-overwhelm ang ating mga ospital at health system,” explained USec. Singh-Vergeire.

“Pero 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,” she furthered.

What “flattening the curve” really means

According to Dr. Wong, the data shows that the doubling time, or the time it takes for a metric to increase two-fold, has increased significantly for both new cases and deaths.

This means that the rate of increase for both these numbers has slowed down. Dr. Wong stated that although we will not be seeing fewer cases just yet, 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.

“When we relax the ECQ, we will see another surge of cases,” he said. “We have to observe all the mitigation measures, that’s how we delay the appearance of a third wave.

“Right now, we are protecting each other by self-quarantining at home. We have to remember that we have to protect ourselves, protect our families, and protect each other by observing a one-meter distance, washing our hands, and wearing protective equipment.”

Hindi nagpapahinga ang mikrobyo; protecting children in the time of COVID-19

Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, the Chief of the Infection and Tropical Disease department of the Philippine General Hospital and President of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines also joined the regular virtual presser to shed light on parental concerns for keeping children safe during the pandemic.

For expecting mothers, Dr. Ong-Lim noted that, based on published literature, there is no evidence yet that shows that an infected pregnant woman can pass the disease to her child, or what is known as vertical transmission. Additionally, she explained that there is no evidence yet of transmission through breastfeeding.

Nevertheless, close contact with the child still makes them susceptible to transmitting the disease. According to Dr. Ong-Lim should the mother show symptoms of any kind, it is imperative that they follow health guidelines to keep their child safe.

“Iingatan lang po natin na yung ating oral secretions, yung pong ating bibig, ilong, parati po nakatakip para hindi po natin malipatan ng mikrobiyo sa ating babies,” she said. “Alam naman natin na maraming sakit, hindi lang COVID, ay pwede mailipat galing po sa ating laway o sa ating ubo.”

She also reminded parents to vaccinate their children when circumstances permit. “Hindi naman nagpahinga ang mga mikrobyo dahil nagkaroon lang tayo ng COVID. Kailangan pa rin tutukan ang pagbibigay proteksyon laban sa vaccine-preventable diseases,” she concluded.