MANILA - The Department of Health is recommending an extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces to stop the surge in COVID-19 infections, a health official said Tuesday.
"One week really is short. We have recommended an extension but of course we have to balance it off with the economy that's why we need enough basis for us to have this extension," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ANC.
The country's daily coronavirus infections hit another record high on Monday after it passed 10,000 for the first time since the pandemic begun.
For Vergeire, the enhanced community quarantine, the strictest form of lockdown, should "ideally" be 2 weeks for them to see the decline in number of COVID-19 cases and effect in the country's health-care utilization rate.
For reintroducing tougher restriction on movement in the National Capital Region and the nearby provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna or so-called NCR Plus, the country can only slow down the spread of the virus, she said.
"That's really short. As I've said, we won't even see any changes in our numbers. We might see more numbers after this 1 week because what we're seeing right now are the numbers 2 weeks prior to this week. We are still going to see an accumulation to these numbers for the next 2 weeks," she added.
According to their research, it takes an average of 9 days before health authorities can isolate a specific individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
"Why so? It takes about 3 days for people to decide if they would want to seek consult for their symptoms. It takes another 2 days for them to get tested and the waiting for the results and then eventually being isolated. It takes 9 days in average. Theses 9 day causes a lot of transmission already," Vergeire said.
She reiterated that if the government didn't reimpose the hard lockdown in NCR Plus, the country would record up to 430,000 active cases by the end of April.
This is based on the reproduction number or R naught of 1.46 or the average number of people that a single infected person can transmit the disease to.
Vergeire maintained that the presence of more contagious coronavirus variants were contributing to the increase of COVID-19 cases in the country.