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Davao City, Philippines

Flattening the curve

April 08, 2020 - Wednesday 4:04 AM by Jimmy Laking

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A few issues back I brought up the idea for Mayor Sara Duterte to consider the possibility of extending the lockdown to the end of April.

I raised the suggestion, although unsolicited at best, in the wake of the three-day Matina Gallera derby that may have resulted in the infection of several individuals with COVID-19.

The idea is to allow more time for those infected and those they may have infected to do quarantine.

By coincidence, a few relatives and friends in northern Luzon also raised the same clamor for their localities, saying they had seen what good the lockdown can do and were not averse to extending it to ensure the virus is stamped out.

It is hoped that by extending the lockdown, enough time is gained to flatten the curve in addressing the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the United States-based Michigan Radio, the term “flattening the curve” was coined by Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan. Markel is a professor on the history of medicine as well as on pediatrics and communicable diseases.

Michigan Radio said “flattening the curve” is the idea that “society can slow the rate for contagious diseases by measures like canceling schools, closing business, or sheltering in place.” The hope is that the number of patients who need urgent medical care is reduced all at once.

Markel and his team is credited for a study of the 1918-1919 flu pandemic that compared cities that did flatten the curve — taking measures to reduce a spike (or tall curve in a graph) in infections and instead stretching them out over a longer (flatter) period of time — with those that did not.

Markel said that indeed, “the cities that did those things did far better than those that did not.”

It did not surprise him, therefore, that the concept of flattening the curve reemerged during the COVID-19 pandemic “because it’s been a matter of not if there’s pandemic, but when.”

Markel concluded that in his 20 years of study, the “socially and economically disruptive” measures would help save lives.

It is what every government is doing, said President Rodrigo over the television Monday night. “COVID-19 is science, period. So if we tell you to stay home, it is science, period.”

“This unseen enemy is in the air and the only defense is to stay home,” he underscored.

To flatten the curve, President Duterte said he was inclined to extend the community quarantine in Luzon up to April 30. It is supposed to end on April 12.

The senator from Davao, Bong Go a.k.a Mr. Malasakit, said it would be best to continue the lockdowns for a few more weeks.

He said with the government’s increased capacity to conduct testing, “we can effectively isolate the positive cases from the rest of the community and eventually get rid of the disease.”

Go is a member of the joint oversight committee that oversees the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

He said it is also best to stay at home. “Habang patuloy na lumalabas ka ng bahay na hindi naman kinakailangan, patuloy mo naming inilalapit ang pamilya at kapwa mo tao sa peligro.”