Leachon says MECQ should be extended in Metro Manila for 2 more weeks

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2020 11:00 AM | Updated as of Aug 15 2020 11:18 AM

Residents line up to sign forms for the second tranche of government's COVID-19 cash aid at the Montalban Municipal Hall in Rodriguez, Rizal, August 11, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A public health expert on Saturday called for a 2-week extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, warning that relaxing the lockdown could further increase COVID-19 cases in the country.

“What is clear right now, unrelenting ang pagtaas ng cases natin, hindi natin nababawasan ang viral transmission. If we go down sa GCQ (general community quarantine), all the more na 'yung viral transmission ‘di natin makokontrol while the health system capacity is not yet in place,” said Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force on COVID-19 response.

(What is clear right now, the increase in COVID-19 cases is unrelenting, viral transmission has not decreased. If we go down to GCG, all the more that we won't be able to control the viral transmission while our health system capacity is not yet in place.)

Reimposed on Aug. 4, the MECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan will end on Aug. 18, with government announcing new quarantine levels on Monday.

These areas had reverted to a stricter lockdown from GCQ on the appeal of exhausted health workers who warned that the health care system was overwhelmed with the surge in cases.

But Leachon fears that with 75 percent of the workforce returning to work under GCQ, viral transmission will further increase.

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“Pag nag-GCQ maraming taong babalik sa trabaho, mawawala 'yung gains ng MECQ kasi masyadong maiksi 'yung panahon na naibigay dito. 'Yung momentum nawawala,” said Leachon.

(If we go back to GCQ, many people will go back to work, we will lose our gains from MECQ because it was too short. We will lose momentum.)

In an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Leachon said data received from the City Government of Manila showed that the 2-week MECQ helped in slightly bringing down their COVID-19 numbers.

He said the infection, recovery and death rates went down.

“...[I]f we can sacrifice for 2 weeks, ibaba natin ang figures then we’ll have a merry Christmas rather than i-open natin, mag-GCQ tayo and later on sa bandang September balik tayo sa MECQ kaya ‘di tayo magsa-succeed nun, walang continuity,” he said.

(If we can sacrifice for 2 weeks, bring down our figures, then we'll have a merry Christmas rather than open again, go back to GCQ and later on in September go back to MECQ, we will not succeed like that, there's no continuity.)

He cited the “miraculous” gains made by Cebu, formerly a hotspot, where the positivity rate went down from 33 percent to 7 percent after a month-long ECQ.

Meanwhile, the positive rate in Metro Manila remains at 17 percent, and that's high.

As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded 153,660 COVID-19 cases, including 71,405 recoveries and 2,442 deaths.

Malacañang on Saturday announced that except for Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, most parts of the Philippines would remain under relaxed community quarantine levels until the end of the month even as the number of COVID-19 infections in the country continues to increase.