Researchers from the University of the Philippines recommended a 15-day MECQ extension in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, saying “premature” lifting of modified enhanced community quarantine could result in an “uncontrolled” COVID-19 surge.
The latest UP OCTA research said the COVID-19 cases in the country could reach 210,000 by end-August if the 15-day MECQ extension is imposed.
Meanwhile, lifting MECQ on August 18 may lead to 230,000 cases, while a general community quarantine may result in 250,000, the UP researchers said.
Experts said a 15-day MECQ extension would allow local government units to improve contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation procedures. It would also give time to the public and private sectors to ensure safety in workplaces.
“The government should learn from the lessons of Cebu,” the UP experts said, noting that Cebu has “flattened the curve” after imposing a stricter lockdown.
They said while “economically painful,” extending the MECQ would result in a “more durable” opening later on with testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment capabilities in place.
“If we lift the MECQ prematurely, we will need to deal with the outbreak in the NCR entering a phase of uncontrolled and very rapid growth,” the researchers said.
“The extension is not an act against the economy. It is based on the conviction that effectively suppressing the virus is the only way we can open up society and jumpstart economic recovery,” they said.
UP experts recommend 15-day MECQ extension
They added the 15-day MECQ extension would also prevent hospitals and their workers from being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 infections.
The research team’s new report also showed the reproduction number of the virus or the number of people an infected person could pass it to decreased to 1.12 from 1.15 at start of August.
The virus’ reproduction number should be less than one to indicate that the curve has been flattened.
Metro Manila’s reproduction number was lowered to 1.14 in the August 9 to 15 period from 1.19 from August 2 to 8, they said.
However, the team reported that the daily number of new cases in the country “increased slightly” from August 9 to 15 and that the “pandemic surge” in Metro Manila is “real.”
The report was created by Guido David, Ranjit Singh Rye, Ma. Patricia Agbulos, and Rev. Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, with contributions from Eero Rosini Brillantes, Bernhard Eqwolf, Troy Gepte, Rodrigo Angelo Ong, Michael Tee, and Benjamin Vallejo, Jr.