DOH wants MECQ restrictions to stay to stop COVID-19 spread

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2021 02:29 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2021 02:44 PM

DOH wants MECQ restrictions to stay to stop COVID-19 spread 1
An off-site modular hospital, with a 110-bed capacity at the Quezon Institute in Quezon City opens in an inauguration on April 6, 2021. The country is building more isolation facilities to cope with the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitals reaching full capacity. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health said Monday it was favoring the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine, the second strictest lockdown level in Metro Manila to arrest the spread of COVID-19. 

“As a health agency, kami sa DOH nakikita namin yung importansya na maituloy pa natin yung mga ganitong restrictions para magkaroon pa ng pahinga o mas magkaroon ng decongestion ang ating health system,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(As a health agency, we at the DOH see the importance to continue these restrictions to give a break or to decongest our health system.)

This, after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the MECQ must be continued for a week or 2 to help ease the overwhelmed health system.

Vergeire explained that DOH’s experts gave three forecasts - if MECQ is extended until the end of May, if NCR shifts to a looser general community quarantine by May 16 or if GCQ is imposed on May 1.

Asked what exactly the forecasts were, Vergeire said she did not want to pre-empt their meeting, scheduled Monday, with the Data Analytics group of the Interagency Task Force on COVID-19.

“What I can tell you syempre alam naman natin kung bababa o magli-lift tayo ng restrictions alam natin na medyo tataas ang mga kaso. Alam natin pag tinuloy natin ang ganitong MECQ o ganitong restriction magsa-stabilize tayo,” she said.

(What I can tell you is that if we lift restrictions we know that cases will increase. And if we continue current restrictions under MECQ we will stabilize.)

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Vergeire said this as she reported a slight decline in cases and health care utilization rate.

The health official said that from a 7-day moving average of COVID-19 cases at 10,800 last week, the number went down to 9,500 this week.

“This is not an artificial decline,” she said, explaining that the computation takes into consideration the dip in reported cases due to the non-operation of laboratories during weekends.

Vergeire said the health care utilization rate of hospitals in Metro Manila also slightly dropped as the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center converted some of its isolation beds into intensive care unit (ICU) beds.

However, she said Filipinos should not be complacent since Metro Manila’s cities are still seeing high average daily attack rates of about 19 to 55 COVID cases per 100,000 population daily.

She said hospitals are still facing challenges.

The Philippines is projected to reach 1 million total COVID cases by Monday.

Asked what should be done to prevent the country from reaching 2 million cases by the end of the year, Vergeire said it will have to be a whole-of-society approach since the COVID response cannot be done by the government alone.