MANILA - The Philippines needs to sustain its gains from the modified lockdown in its capital region in order to flatten the COVID-19 pandemic curve by the end of next month, University of the Philippines (UP) researchers said on Wednesday.
Flattening the curve is only the beginning of the recovery from the pandemic, according to Dr. Guido David. It can take "several months" before the Philippines can manage the pandemic, he during a virtual press briefing.
David had said the virus' reproduction rate, or the number of people infected by each person carrying the virus, went down to between 1 and 1.1 from 1.5 after Metro Manila and 4 nearby provinces were placed for 2 weeks under the second strictest lockdown level earlier this month.
A reproduction rate above "1" means the disease is continuing to expand; below that threshold, it will eventually peter out.
"It has to basically flatten and not start increasing again. We have to sustain this transmission rate na below 1 for a period of months," he said.
"It will take a while pero ang inaasahan natin sana by Christmas okay na lahat. Let’s work together so we’ll have a happy finish for 2020 kahit papaano," he added.
(It will take a while but hopefully everything's okay by Christmas. Let’s work together so we’ll have a somewhat happy finish for 2020.)
Members of the UP OCTA Research Team do not recommend the full opening of the country's economy, Guido said.
"If we’re going to reopen certain economies, we have to reevaluate each one and make sure na hindi ito (this won't) mag-lead to transmission. I think right now we’re better-prepared for that pero (but) we still have to tread carefully about not letting this get out of control," he said.
His colleague Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said the country must learn from its mistakes when it first eased into general community quarantine or GCQ last June.
"Our basic message to the government and fellow Filipinos is we have to maintain the momentum to keep this downward trend going," he said.
"We have to try to learn from the first GCQ to improve on the GCQ this time so that we will break viral trains of transmission."
Dr. Ranjit Rye agreed with his colleagues as he reiterated the importance of real-time data in creating accurate projections and models for policymaking.
"Ang laki ng binayad natin sa MECQ na yan from the economic and social standpoint. Lalo tayo magingat at 'wag nang lumabas kung 'di kailangan. Wag tayo magpabaya at maging maagap lalo," he added.
(We paid so much for the MECQ from the economic and social standpoint. We should be more careful and do not go outside your homes if unnecessary. Let's not waste our gains and let's be more vigilant.)