OCTA Research backs MECQ extension in NCR Plus

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2021   •   283

MANILA, Philippines – The OCTA Research Group on Wednesday suggested the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) period in the National Capital Region (NCR) and four nearby areas to sustain the downward trend of COVID-19 cases in the country.

During a Laging Handa briefing, OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye said the extension will allow the government to open more quarantine facilities, expand hospital capacity, and hire additional health workers.

“That’s why we are asking for additional week or more for MECQ is really talagang to give time also for the national and local governments to be able to implement interventions,” Rye said.

“It’s very clear, ang very sad experience natin with this terrible surge yung pangangailangan sa expanded testing, tracing, and isolation,” he added.

The NCR and neighboring provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna are under MECQ from April 12 to April 30.

Under this classification, only essential trips are allowed and non-essential services and business are partially shut down.

Rye said that based on their studies, at least 2,000 additional infections in Metro Manila could be manageable but anything above this number could overwhelm the country’s hospital system.

At present, the NCR is still averaging 3,500 but this has already decreased from 5,500 before tighter quarantine protocols were implemented.

“Hindi pa puwede mag-transition sa GCQ (general community quarantine) as we speak kasi the trend can be reversed. Puno pa ang mga ospital,” Rye said.

“We saw a slight decrease this week but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Rye said. “This can be reversed if we are not careful, and if cases surge again, it will be more difficult to deal with as our hospitals are still full.”

Another OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David, in the same briefing, said the reproduction rate or the number of people infected by a patient in Metro Manila has gone down to 0.85 from more than 2 in recent weeks.

The positivity rate has also decreased to 18 percent, he said, but hospitals in the capital region could see easing in occupancy when daily cases go down to less than 2,800.

“What we’re seeing right now is significant improvement. Ang masasabi namin talagang successful ang community quarantines natin for the past several weeks. Yung Reproduction number natin ay bumaba, from more than 2 ngayon ay nasa 0.85 na lang,” David said.

“The numbers are trending in the right direction, magandang balita ‘yan. We have some LGUs na pababa na rin ang cases. Pero ang sabi nga ni Prof. Ranjit, hospitals are still full,” he added.

OCTA said that the panel of experts understands the need to also allow more workers to get back to their jobs and businesses to open in balancing health and the economy.

They, however, hope that this will not lead to more virus transmission if the government will implement a “hybrid” MECQ.

“So hopefully in one to two weeks ay mapababa natin ang cases per day sa NCR to less than 2,800. By that, magsisimula nang magkaroon ng easing sa hospital capacity natin,” David said.

“Once we have one or two weeks of this (MECQ), makikita natin na we will have a foundation to open up to GCQ na mas solid, solid enough for us to sustain for the next 3, 4 months. Tamang-tama, darating na iyong mga bakuna natin,” Rye said.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce later tonight the new community quarantine classifications to be implemented in the country for the month of May.

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Filipinos are allowed to get vaccinated anywhere in PH — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can get inoculated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) anywhere in the country under the government’s “no wrong door policy” in its vaccination drive, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

 “Meron ho tayong tinatawag na no wrong door policy. Ibig sabihin, kung ikaw ay nagpunta sa Davao at ikaw ay puwede nang bakunahan, puwede ka bakunahan doon kahit hindi ka taga-Davao,” Health Undersecretary Mari Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“Hindi po natin sinasara ang ating mga pinto sa mga bakunahan dahil hindi ka taga doon na lugar,” she added.

The health official, however, stressed that the vaccination should be done through appointments and that walk-ins should be discouraged as this tends to result in crowding.

The DOH previously said that local government units may open separate walk-in lanes in their COVID-19 vaccination centers as walk-ins may be used as substitutes for those who are scheduled for inoculation but do no show up on a certain date.

The agency, however, said that the number of walk-ins that would be accommodated per day in jab sites should be limited.

The DOH earlier urged the public to pre-register for the vaccination and get inoculated when it’s their turn.

DOH says surge in COVID-19 cases in Visayas, Mindanao due to ‘multitude of factors’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The rise in COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao areas could be attributed to a “multitude of factors,” the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have noted some factors that have contributed to the spike in infections in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, including the complacency in enforcing and observing health protocols.

The DOH also observed the clustering of infections in workplaces and prisons in the said areas.

“Lagi po nating sinasabi na pag may tumataas po na kaso sa bawat lugar, we need to look at a multitude of factors because we know that there are these different factors which causes the transmission of the virus,” Vergeire said.

“Meron tayong pang-indibidwal at pang-komunidad na pagpapatupad po natin ng minimum health protocols at ‘pag tiningnan natin there are reports already coming to us from our different regional epidemiological and surveillance units na talagang mukhang nagkaroon ng complacency sa pagpapatupad ng health protocols,” she added.

Vergeire said the presence of coronavirus variants in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao may also have contributed to the surge.

“Totoo po na meron na tayong na-detect na variants sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Visayas and Mindanao and these can also be drivers of the infection but let us not just rely or let us not just say that it’s just because of the variants, there are a multitude of factors,” she said.

“Kailangan po kapag tayo ay tumitingin sa response natin, it’s a continuum. So we will need to address, not just the variants, but also the other forms of response that we are having,” she added.

Data from the DOH showed that active COVID-19 cases in the Visayas stood at 13,313, and 14,426 in Mindanao as of June 20.

The DOH reiterated its call to the public to continue adhering to health protocols mandated by the government to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

DOH: Over 2.1 million persons in PH now fully vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 2,153,942 people have completed their COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday.

Based on the vaccine statistics released by the government, a total of 8,407,342 doses have already been administered in the country as of June 20. Of this figure, 6,253,400 have received their first dose.

The agency said that in the A1 or first priority group, a total of 1,569,561 have received their first shot while 1,067,630 have completed 2 doses.

In the A2 or the second priority group, a total of 2,001,758 were given the first dose. On the other hand, 553,527 received their second dose.

In the A3 sector, 2,088,000 received their first jab while 524,699 were fully vaccinated.

In the A4 group, 526,896 got their first jab and 8,086 received their second dose.

Around 67,185 persons under the A5 group were given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The DOH also said that the total COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the 16th week of the national vaccination reached a record high of 1,461,666 doses.

It also noted that the average daily administered doses in the last seven days were 208,809.

“The government is urging eligible populations belonging to priority groups A1 to A5 to register with their local government units, get vaccinated, and complete the required number of doses as scheduled,” the DOH said.

“Regardless of vaccination status, everyone is urged to continue practicing the minimum public health standards as you may still get infected with COVID-19 and infect other people,” it added.

The national government is eyeing to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year to attain population protection against COVID-19.

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