MANILA — The OCTA research group on Tuesday urged government to impose a "circuit-breaking" lockdown to arrest the spread another uptick in coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant.
In Metro Manila, the COVID-19 reproduction rate, or the number of people that a patient with the respiratory disease is likely to infect, has gone up to 1.33, said OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David.
The capital region is tallying about 1,000 coronavirus cases a day and Delta cases may be contributing to rise in infections, said David, a mathematics professor.
"We should adapt what Australia and New Zealand are doing now, which Is basically, 'go early and go hard'… Ibig sabihin, meron tayong (this means having) anticipatory, preventive, circuit-breaking lockdowns po," said OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye.
"Ang tingin namin, kung gagawin natin to over the next 2 weeks, lalo na this week or next week, hindi lang natin mapababa ‘yong kaso… Masi-save pa natin ‘yong economy," he said in a televised public briefing.
(We think that if we do this over the next 2 weeks, especially this week or next week, we will not only bring down cases, we'll save the economy, too.)
Authorities "will lose effective control of the epidemic" if the Delta variant spreads, he said. Rye listed as examples Indonesia, India, and Thailand, which he said did "too little, too late" to contain the Delta variant.
"Dapat maagap, maingat. Kailangan natin kalkulahin ‘yong cost po, kung magla-lockdown tayo later… ilang buwan tayo sarado, ilang tao ang mahahawa, ilang tao ang mamamatay," he said.
(We should be proactive and careful. We should calculate the cost if we postpone the lockdown, how many months we will close, how many will be infected and die.)
The COVID-19 task force is now recommending changes in community quarantine classifications every 15 days, instead of a monthly basis, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Every week po mino-monitor natin, and we will not hesitate to impose stricter lockdowns dahil alam naman natin ‘yan lang po ang sagot," said Roque, who also serves as spokesman of the inter-agency task force.
(We monitor the situation every week, and we will not hesitate to impose stricter lockdowns because we know that is the only answer.)
"At the same time, though, we realize that what we are seeking or aiming for is the total health of the population—controlling the spread of the new Delta variant, at the same time preventing po ‘yong pagkagutom ng ating mga kababayan (preventing hunger among our compatriots)," he said in a press briefing.
With more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases and more than 27,000 deaths, the Philippines has the second worst outbreak in Southeast Asia.
The Delta variant, which is known to be twice more contagious than other mutations of COVID-19, has been confirmed to have infected at least 119 Filipinos as of this month.
While saying the country could no longer afford more lockdowns, President Rodrigo Duterte said he could not completely rule out stricter curbs if the spread of the Delta variant got worse.
He also called on the public to get vaccinated. The Philippines has so far fully immunized about 5 percent of its 109 million population, data shows.
— With a report from Reuters
Video courtesy of PTV