NCR can still reduce COVID-19 spread during MECQ: OCTA fellow


Posted at Apr 17 2021 04:27 PM

A new stock of medical oxygen tanks go on sale in a supply store in Manila on April 11, 2021, amid the high demand due to rising COVID-19 cases and over-capacity of hospitals. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - An OCTA Research fellow said it would still be possible to lower the spread of COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) even with looser quarantine protocols in the metropolis. 

OCTA Research fellow Butch Ong said the group still continues to see the virus' reproduction number in the metropolis getting lower, adding that there is still one week to bring this lower than 1. 

Based on OCTA Research data, the reproduction rate for Metro Manila has been reduced to 1.16, from 1.9 the past two weeks. 

“Ngayong nasa MECQ tayo, we expect na mas bumagal ang reproduction rate natin,” Ong said. 

Authorities seek to place the reproduction number - or the number of people infected by one person - below 1.0. Whether or not it will be attained next week is still “too early to tell,” according to Ong. 

“It’s too early to tell kung kailan tayo pupunta sa 1.0 [or below]. Masyado maaga pa, maybe mid of this coming week malalaman natin kung mahi-hit natin ang target natin,” he said. 

(It’s too early. We will know by the middle of next week if we could hit our target.) 

Ong's co-fellow Guido David earlier raised the concern that lowering Metro Manila's lockdown classification to MECQ has not been working as cases continue to rise.

However, Ong maintained that implementing the MECQ was not useless, citing that the reproduction number in the capital region was still brought down. 

Asked about the concern in a separate interview, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the focus should be on ramping up healthcare capacities as cases continue to rise. 

"We also look at our healthcare capacity. Kailangan balanse po iyan. Pag yan ang pinaguusapan, kasama ang ospital, kasama ang LGU response so pinakaimportante sa'tin na even though numbers will rise, we should have enough healthcare capacity para po naa-accommodate natin especially those who need hospital care and quarantine care," Vergeire said. 

(We also look at our healthcare capacity. That should be balanced. If that is being discussed, we include the hospitals and the LGUs. What's important now is that even though numbers will rise, we should have enough healthcare capacity so we could accommodate patients, especially those who need hospital and quarantine care.) 

Metro Manila and neighboring provinces - collectively called "NCR Plus" - were placed under MECQ until April 30. It had previously been under the stricter enhanced community quarantine for two weeks.