MECQ needs to be extended, says COVID expert, citing ‘unstable’ drop of cases

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Posted at Apr 27 2021 08:35 AM | Updated as of Apr 27 2021 09:15 AM

MECQ needs to be extended, says COVID expert, citing ‘unstable’ drop of cases 1
Patients are treated on wheelchairs amid shortage of beds in the makeshift extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Room of the government hospital National Kidney and Transplant Institute on April 26, 2021 in Quezon City, which has declared overcapacity following a surge of COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila. The number of daily cases has slowed in the last two weeks under a stricter lockdown in the national Capital Region (NCR) but hospitals are still above the ideal operating capacity. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA—The modified enhanced community quarantine imposed in Metro Manila and 4 nearby provinces should be extended for at least 1 more week to rein in the spread of COVID-19, a group of experts said Tuesday.

"In agreement with the Department of Health and the medical community, we would like to recommend to the national government to extend the MECQ for at least 1 more week," Fr. Nicanor Austriaco of OCTA Research Team told ANC.

The MECQ -- the third strictest of 4 lockdown levels -- is set to end on Friday, April 30.

The Dominican priest, who teaches biology and theology at Providence College in the United States, said the decreasing number of coronavirus cases in the so-called NCR Plus bubble was still "unstable".

"What I mean by that is that the decrease in cases is not comparable across all the LGUs (local government units) of the NCR Plus bubble," he said.

"So, the concern is that if we prematurely enter into GCQ, then the cases in 1 LGU, which are unstable, will trigger spike in adjacent LGUs and we will resurge again."

Extending the quarantine measure will also help decongest hospitals from COVID-19 admission, Austriaco said.

"In support of DOH and other hospital groups, we are saying, 'Let's do what we have to do now so we don't have to worry about it later,'" he added.

The Philippines on Monday breached the 1-million mark in COVID-19 cases, among the worst outbreaks in Asia. Nearly 17,000 have so far died from the disease.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday he also favored extending the MECQ as the health systems capacity in NCR Plus had yet to improve.

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