UP COVID-19 team suggests localized quarantine after initial lockdown ends
MANILA, Philippines – The COVID-19 response team of the University of the Philippines (UP) has suggested enforcing localized quarantine measures after the initial enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) deadline ends on April 30.
A study made by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, which was released on Monday, found that, while the ECQ over entire Luzon appeared successful in limiting the number of patients infected with the latest coronavirus strain, the measure might have ill effects when implemented for a long period.
What the team suggests is to enforce a modified quarantine — where only areas with a high probability of a COVID-19 outbreak would be subjected to a lockdown.
“Successful as it may seem, an ECQ covering a wide area may not be sustainable over the long run. Prolonged restriction on the movement of goods and services over a large area (i.e. region-wide) can unnecessarily paralyze local economies,” UP’s team explained.
“In light of this reality, our best recourse after April 30 is to implement graduated activation of ECQ depending on the level of risk in certain areas at a given time. Under this set-up, provinces (or even lower-level LGUs) may be put under ECQ depending on how close or far they are to an estimated outbreak threshold,” they added.
According to the team’s analysis, which was obtained through the use of epidemiological approaches in disease mapping, at least 16 provinces in the Philippines have outbreak probability rates of over 90%.
The percentage was obtained by getting the ratio between the number of cases in an area compared to the estimated outbreak threshold.
Thirteen of the 16 provinces are in Luzon — namely, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Metro Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, and Rizal. Two of them — Aklan and Cebu — are in the Visayas. And one — Davao del Sur — is in Mindanao.
The UP COVID-19 team believes that, in areas with an over 90% probability of an outbreak, an ECQ should remain, while those with an over 99% probability of an outbreak should apply an extreme enhanced community quarantine (EECQ), similar to what is currently on-going in several hard-hit Quezon City barangays.
Meanwhile, localities with an over 80% probability an outbreak but not more than 90%, should enforce a general community quarantine.
“By getting the ratio of the number of cases against the estimated outbreak threshold, we can determine which level of community quarantine to implement,. For instance, a province whose number of cases is at least equal to the estimated outbreak threshold should implement ECQ measures,” the UP team said.
“On the other hand, a province whose number of cases is less than 75% of the estimated outbreak threshold may not declare a community quarantine at all, but only need to sustain information campaign efforts, general physical distancing, testing and contact tracing, home quarantine for probable cases, and hospitalization for patients needing care and treatment,” the team added.
The whole of Luzon and a few other areas are still under an ECQ, which will end on April 30, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
As of this writing, the Department of Health has confirmed 5,223 COVID-19 patients — 335 of whom have died and 295 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 1.9 million individuals have been infected, of whom 119,700 have died and 449,472 have recovered.
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