The Philippines is “doing well” in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, a fellow at the University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research Team said on Friday.

000 8Q33AT - PH doing well in COVID fight — UP OCTA Research Team
In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields have their temperature taken before boarding a bus in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dr. Nicanor Austriaco said that for the past several months, the country has had a “substantial decline” in the number of COVID-19 cases, not just in Metro Manila, but nationwide.

“Remember that many countries, especially those in the northern hemisphere, are undergoing a second wave so they are on the way up, and we’re on the way down and we’ve been on the way down for the past couple of months,” Austriaco told ANC.

The research fellow, however, said that an uptick in cases is expected in the weeks to come with the easing of mobility in the country.

“One of the basic rules in pandemic management is that as you increase mobility, you’re going to increase transmission,” he said.

“We’ve opened our economy, especially in the National Capital Regions (NCR), so it should not be surprising that we should expect an uptick of cases in the weeks to come,” he added.

But according to Austriaco, the uptick in cases is not “something to be scared about.”

“This is something we have to be ready for. We have been preparing for this for the last six months and hopefully, our contact tracing capacity, our isolation, and quarantine facility, hopefully all that we invested in for the last six months will now allow us to manage the uptick in cases to prevent a surge,” the expert said.

“There’s going to be an uptick, but the uptick doesn’t have to overwhelm us,” he said.

Austriaco said that the uptick in cases due to increased mobility has been proven last September when the government imposed a reduced passenger distance in public transport.

“When they allowed this to happen for two days, we saw about a week after an uptick in the daily number of cases in NCR,” he said.

Austriaco expressed hope that the government’s increased capacity in fighting COVID-19 will allow it to manage the uptick that’s “going to come.”

“We built a flood wall and we can see that the wave is coming. We don’t know what will happen when the wave hits the wall. Our hope is that the wall is strong enough and tall enough that it will not be overwhelmed by the wave when it arrives,” he said.

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