Metro Manila quarantine 'very effective' at checking COVID-19 - UP think tank

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2020 09:21 PM

Metro Manila quarantine 'very effective' at checking COVID-19 - UP think tank 1
The Makati business district on the First day of the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon on March 17, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed over Metro Manila seems to have been "very effective" at checking the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the head of a University of the Philippines think tank said on Sunday. 

Prof. Mahar Lagmay of the UP Resilience Institute (UPRI) said the university's Institute of Mathematics submitted research on Saturday showing that the number of new infections per day in the National Capital Region appears to have already reached its peak. 

"In NCR they are saying that it seems that we are already at the peak. So that means that our efforts in the ECQ have really been very very effective," Lagmay said in an interview with ANC. 

Because of the ECQ many provinces and cities have also reduced risk of spread of COVID-19, he said. 

Lagmay however warned that once quarantine measures are lifted, "the spread might spike up again."

To avoid this, UPRI said policymakers need to base their decisions on whether to lift or continue the quarantine on "science-based models." 

SCIENCE-BASED MODEL FOR EASING QUARANTINE

The UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, of which Lagmay is part of, earlier recommended the government shift to a "modified quarantine" after the Luzon-wide lockdown ends on April 30. 

UP researchers studying COVID-19 data from the Department of Health launched a web portal and interactive map showing COVID-19 hotspots as well as medical and other facilities in these areas. 

The map can help policymakers and local government officials determine which barangays, towns or cities have a high probability of having another outbreak and thus need to continue enhanced community quarantine measures.

It also shows which areas have a low chance of having an outbreak where the ECQ may be lifted, he said. 

"In terms of the ECQ, that can be the take-off point for making logical decisions with respect to the socioeconomic implications as well as the number of health facilities that are needed in order for us to prioritize our resources," Lagmay said. 

Business groups have also called on the government for a "calibrated easing" of the quarantine after April 30, warning that continuing the lockdown will further weigh on the economy

"With all these science and statistical-analysis based models we may be able to arrive at very very good decisions for our country."