TURNING POINT: Flattening the Curve William R. Adan

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 19 July) — Only last week, UP experts projected the number of COVID-19 infection cases to rise to 100,000 or even higher by the end of August. That would about double the current 58,000 + cases.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu are reported already in capacity and are no longer in the position to admit COVID-19 patients for shortage of health personnel, overcrowding in emergency rooms, and filled up Intensive care units.

Notwithstanding the grim forecast and the worsening health care situation, DOH Secretary Duque III proudly claimed on 14 July that the country has flattened the curve, pointing to case longer doubling time and moderate mortality rate.

What is really meant by “flattening the curve” in this pandemic?

Flattening the curve means taking appropriate control measures to drastically reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases. When effectively done, it can slow the spread of a virus, and fewer people will need medical treatment.

In epidemiology, the curve refers to the projected, theoretical number of people who will get COVID-19 over a period of time.

A flattened curve means the spread of the virus is slowed down, infection cases are fewer, and occurs over a longer period, and do not therefore put heavy pressure on healthcare facilities. It practically means that there isn’t as large a number of people being diagnosed at the same time. Instead, things are spread out and the health service has more time to deal with and plan for cases.

The image below is a very helpful visualization of “flattening the curve” from the government of Ireland.

I wonder how the DOH would graphically present Sec. Duque’s flattened curve in the advent of infection spikes and the healthcare facilities now hitting capacity.

I wonder even more why the President continues to keep Duque under his wings despite his rotten credibility. What card does Duque keep under his sleeve that he can’t be let go? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines)