MANILA (UPDATE)—Projections by the health department showed that even under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Metro Manila could see active COVID-19 cases rising eventually.
According to Undersecretary Mario Rosario Vergeire, even if the National Capital Region goes through 4 weeks of hard lockdown, it could still see an increase in active cases between 18,000 to 30,000 by end of September.
The same spike was projected if the lockdown were scheduled for one week under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions, followed by 3 weeks under ECQ.
The NCR recorded 12,108 active cases as of Friday, data from its COVID-19 tracker showed. Metro Manila also led all regions in new cases, with 1,533 posted on Friday.
Vergeire on Saturday said that forecast was based on the findings of their FASSTER group and the agency’s Autumn modeling.
"Dito po sa mga scenario, nakakita po ng increase sa number of cases, from 18,000 to 30,000 plus cases. 'Yan ay nasa ECQ na po tayo," Vergeire said in a public briefing.
(In our experts' forecast, in the said scenarios, we can see the number of cases increase. And that's under ECQ.)
FASSSTER, according to the agency's website, seeks to group data sources based on disease records, environmental factors and "provide a rich layout of integrated information that will facilitate in understanding the spread of diseases."
The Philippines recorded more than 15,000 fresh novel-coronavirus cases in early April during the peak of another surge, which had stretched health care capacity in the capital region and surrounding provinces.
"Ang sinasabi lang po natin, these lockdowns will help us prepare the system, but it is not going to control the spread. Kailangan pa rin po natin iprepara ang sistema, gawin po natin 'yung mga dapat po nating gawin para ma-prevent po natin ang further spread ng Delta variant na ito,” she said.
(We need to prepare the system, do whatever we can to prevent further spreading the Delta variant.)
President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday approved placing Metro Manila under ECQ starting Aug. 6 until Aug. 20 to halt the spread of the Delta variant.
LOCKDOWN TOO LATE?
Vergeire said stricter lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila, home to 13 million people, were ordered just in time.
She added there is not enough evidence yet to indicate that there is already a community transmission of the Delta variant.
Community transmission happens when several people who have no known contact with an infected person contracts the disease.
"I think we are early on doing the preventive measures. Hindi man natin naipatupad agad-agad ang lockdown, pero nagkakaroon na tayo ng pag-iigting ng ating measures mula pa po ng pumutok sa India itong Delta variant na ito," she added.
(We were not able to implement the lockdown immediately but we were able to ramp up measures to ward off the Delta variant since it emerged from India)
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos said NCR mayors face a daunting task under another ECQ because they, too, have to continue vaccinating the public and make sure government cash assistance is distributed.
“You can imagine right now, 'yung ECQ gagawin, it's not a walk in the park for the mayors. Trabahong matindi ito. Pero kamukha ng sinabi ko, we have to do everything right now to stop this threat," Abalos said.
He added that based on data he gathered from the Department of Health, the intensive care unit (ICU) rate in the region already reached critical levels.
"Sa East Avenue Medical Center, it's 94% ICU, ang Chinese General Hospital, it's 88% that's already critical. Ang Metropolitan Medical Center that's 100%, ang Ospital ng Makati is 100%, ang Quirino Memorial Hospital is 89%,” he said.
The National Task Force Against COVID-19 earlier said they would ramp up the government’s immunization program in the region despite tougher lockdowns. — With reports from Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News
Video courtesy of PTV