MANILA - Metro Manila can ease to general community quarantine when its COVID-19 daily average cases declines to less than 2,000 infections, OCTA Research Group said Thursday.
"We’re hoping the cases will be reduced to less than 2,000. If the number of daily average cases in NCR goes below 2,000 it will still a significant number but I believe we can still manage it even under GCQ," Professor Guido David told ANC's Headstart.
President Rodrigo Duterte has extended until May 14 the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in NCR Plus bubble composed of the capital region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
OCTA Research forecasts the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila will decline to 2,800 in two weeks' time, David said.
"If it's less than 2,800, there are more people getting discharged from hospitals compared to admissions, then that would mean our hospitals would start to loosen up or has less strain on them," he said.
"We’re optimistic though we haven’t seen the guidelines...maybe the decrease will be slower, we’re hoping the downward trend will continue."
The group recommends that dine-in services remain barred as outside dining is preferred, David said. It also proposes that capacity of establishments be increased to up to 30 percent, he added.
"We still have to have social distancing in place. The easing of restrictions has to be done gradually," David said.
The COVID-19 bed capacity of St. Luke's Medical Center remains at a "critical" level, said its president and CEO Dr. Arturo dela Peña.
"As of now it’s still critical. It has gone down a little bit over the last 2 days. This is the effect of quarantine instituted 3 weeks ago. When you open gradually, it is expected for the number to increase also," he said.
Two of its hospitals have increased virus bed capacity to "more than 30 percent," that was required by government, Dela Peña added.
"When the surge came in, we have noticed the intensive care areas are more than 100 percent capacity. Meaning to say, there were more critical cases we’re admitting within the last 3 weeks," he said.
"There are days that it is beyond 100 percent but it doesn’t go down 90 percent occupancy rate."
Government must increase its COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccination to address the surge, according to Dela Peña.
The public must be educated on coronavirus vaccine instead of making it mandatory, he added.
"I think it is a violation of one’s right. It might be unconstitutional but if we can find a way of educating the people about the benefits of vaccination," he said.
"We've been talking to a lot of our patients and many of them do not really understand. What is being magnified are complications and even anecdotal claims of death associated to vaccination, which is not true."
The Philippines on Wednesday tallied 6,895 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 1,020,495, of which 6.6 percent or 67,769 are active infections.