Flattening the curve of COVID-19 ‘did not continue’ due to reopening of economy, expanded testing — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16)— The Philippines started to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases after implementing tight lockdown measures earlier this year, but progress was halted by the reopening of the economy and expanded testing capacity, Malacañang said Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country saw a decline in the number of virus infections when areas were placed under the strict enhanced community quarantine.

“Immediately after ECQ and MECQ, we noticed that we have somehow experienced decline in the number of cases. In other words, at some point, we started, we were starting to flatten the curve,” Roque said in an interview with The Source. “But unfortunately, because of the opening of the economy, and also because of intensified testing, it did not continue. The flattening did not continue.”

“We have not actually flattened the curve, we slowed it down tremendously as a result of ECQ and MECQ, but with intensified testing and I guess with the reopening of the economy, the cases increased anew,” he stressed.

Roque, however, was quick to point out that the new policies— particularly the increased testing protocols— were not “necessarily negative altogether,” as these would help authorities in contact tracing and isolation procedures.

The topic was thrust back into the spotlight after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday claimed that the country has “successfully” flattened the curve of infections— a pronouncement slammed by netizens and lawmakers alike.

Duque later clarified that what he meant say was the Philippines “bent” the curve following the implementation ECQ measures earlier this year. Duque likewise attributed the spike in cases to expanded testing capacity and community transmission due to movement of people— mirroring some of Roque’s sentiments.

To date, coronavirus infections in the Philippines have surpassed 58,000.