NEDA chief unconvinced that reopening of economy caused COVID-19 surge

The chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Tuesday that it was unlikely that the reopening of the economy caused the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Acting NEDA Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the COVID-19 cases only spiked in March, five months after the reopening of the economy and easing of restrictions.

“After five months of partial opening, we did not see an increase in cases so I do not think it is the main reason or a reason why cases increased starting March,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“That is my first message, let us look at the data,” said NEDA chief Chua, who in February called for a further reopening of the economy.

In October 2020, the government decided to revive the economy by allowing establishments and public transportation to operate at a higher capacity.

The spike in the number of COVID-19 cases occurred in March, with the recording its highest daily tally of 8,000 since the pandemic began.

NEDA chief unconvinced that reopening of economy caused COVID-19 surge

Last week, the Research group said Tuesday the Philippines could record 11,000 new -19 cases daily by the end of March due to an upward trend in infections.

According to Professor Guido David, the reproduction number in the country has increased to 2.03, meaning every patient could infect two other people.

“It’s now above 2, and what that means is we have to recalculate again the trends,” he told ANC. “Right now, the numbers… have been upped to about 10,000 to 11,000 [daily new cases] by the end of this month, unfortunately.”

The team also projected that the Philippines could record up to 20,000 new COVID-19 cases daily by April if the new surge of infections would not be controlled.

They also suggested to Metro Manila mayors to implement a “soft MECQ” or modified enhanced community if the number of  would continue to increase after two weeks.

“The soft MECQ in our position is one where businesses are still open, transportation is available for our workers, but of course all forms of social gathering are prohibited. Work from home and other types of arrangements are required both in the public and private sector,” member Ranjit Rye said in an online briefing.