What’s the science behind prolonged quarantine?
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte extended the Luzon lockdown by two weeks on Tuesday, but the Department of Health (DOH) could not offer a scientific explanation for the decision.
In his virtual press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III did not provide any details nor offer an initial analysis of the impact of the lockdown on the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.
Duque, however, said the agencies and groups from the scientific community that the DOH had partnered with would release to the public details of their recommendation in the next few days.
Among these groups are the Department of Science and Technology, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Institute of Management.
“We understand that everyone is struggling in the situation we are in. But let us remember that our sacrifices would bear something good for all of us. Your continued cooperation and understanding of our policies would greatly contribute in our fight against COVID-19,” he said.
Prior to Duque’s briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson for the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, explained that because the onset of COVID-19 symptoms could take up to 14 days, the “earliest effect” of the lockdown can only be seen on March 29. The lockdown was fully implemented from March 15.
“According to our experts, we are most likely to see a much clearer effect of the [lockdown] by mid-April. You need to give us at least till mid-April to really study the effect of the [lockdown],” Nograles said.
On Tuesday, the DOH reported 104 new cases, bringing the national total to 3,764. This was a significant drop from the previous day when 414 new cases were recorded.
From Tuesday last week, the number of new confirmed cases fluctuated from a high of 538 to a low of 76. It is unclear, though, if this is still due to the expansion of the country’s testing capacity as the DOH has not answered queries on whether there is still a backlog of samples that need to be tested.
The death toll rose to 177 as 14 new fatalities were recorded on Tuesday. The total number of recovered patients also increased to 84, with the recovery of 11 more patients.
For the fifth straight day, the DOH did not release any information on the fatalities. Hence, it could not be determined when these patients actually died since previously some of the deaths were announced belatedly.
As for the condition of those still hospitalized, 274 are mild cases, 39 are severe, while 23 are critical. The figure is barely 9 percent of the total cases.
Duque said the DOH was still awaiting updates from the hospitals.
Of the total cases, he said, around 80 percent were in Metro Manila. He said this was because SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spread in the metropolis due to the “volume of flights” in the capital.
He said the cases in the Visayas and Mindanao were due to the “local transmission [of the virus] from Metro Manila.” He, however, did not provide any evidence or study that the DOH had done to back his analysis.
Outside Luzon, Davao has the most number of cases, 79, followed by Central Visayas with 39.
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