Filipino scientists studying how novel coronavirus is spread in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — A study led by Filipino scientists from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is now underway to understand the transmission patterns of the coronavirus disease in the country, the Department of Science and Technology said Thursday.

The DOST-funded research seeks to assist the country’s policymakers in creating “better and evidence-based strategies” to control the COVID-19 , the department said.

The study led by Dr. Mayan Lumandas of RITM aims to gather data on the transmission dynamics, secondary infection rate, the speed of spread and frequency of fatality among the country’s symptomatic COVID-19 patients and their close contacts.

These pieces of information could help in improving the current government efforts on case isolation, contact tracing, and infection control and prevention, the DOST said.

The DOST is also supporting three other studies to contain the viral illness, including the development of local COVID-19 testing kits, which may be commercially available in two to three weeks once they get approval from the World Health Organization.

People could catch the viral disease through the air, but only if they are in medical facilities, the Department of Health said Wednesday, citing the result of a preliminary research on the virus.

DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire has said that the consensus now is people could acquire the respiratory infection, which mostly affects older people and individuals who have preexisting medical conditions, through droplets from the nose or mouth when people infected with COVID-19 cough or sneeze.

The Philippines has 202 COVID-19 cases, including 17 deaths and seven recovered patients as of Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 cases globally is nearing 220,000, with over 8,800 deaths, mostly in China, according to the tracker from the John Hopkins University.