The Octa Research Team sees the need for a much tighter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to slow down immediately the surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country.
During the Laging Handa public briefing hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Dr. Butch Ong said the current restrictions implemented over Metro Manila and four nearby provinces – the NCR plus bubble – may not be enough to curb the Covid-19 trajectory.
The government also placed the National Capital Region (NCR) and Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal under the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ from March 29 to April 4 to arrest the surge in Covid-19 cases.
“One could be the solution of tighter restriction in community mobility, the NCR plus GCQ (general community quarantine) bubble if we maintain it, it could take longer for us to see a sudden decrease, so perhaps now we should consider a tighter restriction,” Ong explained.
He said based on last year’s performance when there was a two-week time out healthcare workers, there was a significant decrease in the number of new cases for the next four months.
“So we had the MECQ around July, August and we saw a steady decrease until December and maybe now, we might need a time out also and we might need a MECQ again for two weeks,” Ong added.
The health expert justified that pattern could be similar this year with the current number of Covid-19 cases.
Octa still projects around 11,000 cases by the end of the month with the current figure of new Covid-19 cases.
“If we’re going to maintain the localized lockdown and if the change, the change in the reproduction number is only 0.1, the change going downwards. We might see an improvement in about ten weeks and that’s it’s too long for our healthcare workers or health care system,” Ong said.
He stressed that the current reproduction rate is at 1.94 from previous 2.04 despite the localized lockdowns imposed by different local government units. In addition, he said the bed capacity of hospitals is being challenged with the rising cases.
OCTA projected that areas where Covid-19 cases are high will see hospitral reaching their full capacity in only two weeks.