MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) reproduction rate in the National Capital Region has gone down since the region was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), according to the OCTA Research Team.
However, UP Professor and OCTA Research Fellow Dr. Ranjit Rye said the region’s daily attack rate, positivity rate, and ICU occupancy in hospitals remain high.
“Generally speaking, the trend is downward for the whole region and NCR Plus. This is good for all of us. But we have also noted the daily attack rate is still high in many cities in the NCR,” the OCTA Research Group Fellow said.
“Second, the positivity rate is still high at 14 percent. And we’re hoping that in the next few days it will further improve. The third thing we need to look into, as Dr. Butch has also mentioned, is the fact that the ICU occupancy is still quite high,” he added.
Dr. Rye said the team understands why the government needs to extend stricter quarantine restrictions given the current situation.
“We can understand if the government will have discussions on extending the MECQ, really because we need some more time to heal. We also need some more time for government interventions, such as contact tracing and expansion of hospital capacity, apart from testing,” he said.
He said the trends right now are good although the NCR is “not yet where we are supposed to be as far as managing the crisis in the particular region is concerned.”
But they noted that the MECQ that the region is right now is not that which was implemented in August of last year in terms of mobility.
“If you look at the mobility numbers, we are actually much more comparable to a GCQ,” said UST Professor Nicanor Austriaco.
Austriaco added that while they understand the government’s move to open the economy, “we want to sustain the good trends that we have so far.”
President Rodrigo Duterte is set to announce the new quarantine classification soon and the team wants it done with caution.
“We will support whatever the government decides. What we’re suggesting is caution. What we’re suggesting is a calibrated slow exit strategy so that we can sustain the trends,” Dr. Rye noted.
One area of caution, he said, is to prevent the entry of the new and more contagious variant from India.
He said the group is awaiting the result of the [genome] sequencing done on the five COVID-19 positive individuals who entered the Philippines from India.
Rye added that another consideration is the rollout of improvement in COVID-response, such as infrastructure, training of contact tracing, and expansion of hospital facilities.
The OCTA research team reported improvements in hospital occupancy in Metro Manila even as the daily attack rate continues to drop.
“We will expect similarly, with about 2 or 3-week delay, a drop in cases,” Prof. Austriaco said.
Meanwhile, taking note of the data from Israel, the U.K., and the U.S., the team said it will help if, at least, 45 to 50% of the population will be vaccinated to see the effect of the government’s vaccination program on the number of COVID-19 cases.
“Which means here in NCR, we have to vaccinate about six million people of our 12 million people here before we see a substantial effect on the number of cases,” Austriaco added hoping that the government’s vaccine strategy and vaccine campaign will be realized before the end of the year.
As of May 9, there are 1,101,990 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. Of this number, a total of 1,022,224 have recovered while 18,472 succumbed to the disease.