By Corina Oliquino

MANILAHong Kong-based capital venture firm Deep Knowledge Group’s recent analysis of global pandemic data released last April 12, ranks the Philippines ninth among the riskiest countries to be in during the coronavirus pandemic.

Globally, Europe is the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with Italy, Spain and France reporting over 100,000 infections as of April 15.

Iran and Ecuador were the riskiest countries in the Middle East and South America, ranking seventh and eighth worldwide.

Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Laos, Bangladesh and Indonesia joined the Philippines at the “low level,” ranked 20th.

Deep Knowledge Group used data from the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins University, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Worldometers and other publicly available sources.

While its safety ranking was based on quarantine efficiency, government management, monitoring and detection and emergency treatment readiness.

The Group also determined the risk ranking based on factors such as: infection spread risk, government management, healthcare efficiency and regional specific risks.

COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific region

In a report by The Philippine Star’s One News, the Philippines ranked last among 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of safety, with South Korea, China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and the Chinese special administrative of Hong Kong listed with high levels of safety while Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and India were at mid-level safety.

In a Forbes report, on the other hand, Deep Knowledge Group co-founder and managing partner Margaretta Colangelo said the country rankings were meant to “help people and governments make informed decisions that maximize beneficial outcomes for humanity.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a complex system involving biology, human behavior, companies and governments, and it’s influenced by healthcare, economics, governance and geopolitics. Sophisticated analytical methods could help improve economic, societal and geo-political stability,” Colangelo said.

“The rankings can be used as a tool for businesses and governments to aid in effective decision making, and could assist response efforts in order to maximize health, stabilize economies and help communities re-open for business,” she added.

In another report by Rappler, Deep Knowledge Group founder Dmitry Kaminskiy in an interview with Nikkei Asian Review said that Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, being at the bottom of the Asia-Pacific list, may face “quite negative dynamics” in the coming weeks, reiterating the “inefficiency of government management” particularly in the Philippines.

The Group’s analysis also revealed the top 40 safest countries to be in during the pandemic, with Israel, Germany, South Korea, Australia, China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong making it to the top 10.

Meanwhile, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ tracker revealed the Philippines has the most number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia at 6,459 cases with 613 recoveries and 428 deaths, followed by Indonesia.

Public urged to stay home as Palace found the ranking “shameful”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, during a press briefing, appealed to the public to stay home while the government determines the next step to deal with the pandemic.

Unang-una, nananawagan, nakikiusap sa mga Filipino, ang dami pong pasaway sa atin. At dahil po diyan, number one na naman tayo sa Asia sa dami ng COVID-19, nakakahiya po,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte on a televised address last April 16, urged Filipinos to exercise discipline in practicing social distancing and curfew hours amid the pandemic or he would impose a martial law-like law enforcement.

I’m asking you, disiplina… ‘Pag ayaw niyo maniwala, mag-take over military at police… Ang police at military mag-enforce sa (social distancing) at curfew, parang martial law na rin, mamili kayo,” Duterte said.

Moreover, Roque said imposing a “total lockdown” remains an option for the government should the country fail to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We have seen that the number of COVID cases increased, decreased and the number is still on the rise. It’s saddening that while we extended the ECQ, we have yet to flatten the curve,” Roque said.