EXPLAINER: How the gov’t decided which areas fall under ECQ, GCQ
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has extended the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and several “high-risk” provinces until May 15 to further contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
At the same time, it relaxed restrictions in some provinces by placing it under a general community quarantine where some industries have been allowed to operate, like agriculture, food manufacturing, hospitals, and the like.
During an online Palace briefing Friday, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua explained the decision-making framework the Interagency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases considered in determining which provinces will fall under an ECQ or GCQ.
Two factors were considered to decide the provinces’ risks of outbreak, Chua said: its case doubling rate and its critical utilization care rate.
“Case doubling rate, gaano kabilis dumoble ang mga kaso ng COVID. Kasi kung mabilis dumoble, ibig sabihin, ang risk of outbreak ay malaki. Dapat bantayan natin,” Chua explained.
(Case doubling rate, how fast the number of COVID cases doubles. If it doubles fast, it means that the risk of outbreak is big. It should be guarded.)
“Yung pangalawang basehan namin ay yung critical care utilization rate. Ibig sabihin, sapat ba yung kagamitan sa hospitals, kung meron ba tayong ICU (Intensive Care Units), ventilator or isolation (rooms),” he further said.
(Our second basis was the critical utilization rate. It is whether there is enough hospital equipment, ICU, ventilator, or isolation rooms.)
Based on these two factors, Chua said provinces were categorized into four— red, orange, yellow, and green, corresponding to acceleration, deceleration, initiation, and recognition and preparation, respectively.
“So kung red po, ibig sabihin niyan ay acceleration. Ibig sabihin, lumalala or malala pa rin ang situation. Either maraming kaso ng COVID o hindi sapat ang hospital equipment. Like in NCR, medyo puno na po ang ICU natin at ating isolation,” Chua said.
(If it is red, there is acceleration. It means, the situation continues to worsen or is still bad. Either there are a lot of COVID cases or the province does not have enough hospital equipment. Like in NCR, our ICUs and isolation rooms are slowly being filled up.)
“Kung orange naman or yellow ay deceleration or initiation. Ibig sabihin, hindi pa nag-outbreak or pababa na, galing na sa outbreak. At yung pangatlo po yung green, ito yung recognition and preparation. Pwedeng isa lang yung kaso or wala at kailangan maghanda,” he added.
(If it is orange or yellow, then it is deceleration or initiation. This means an outbreak has yet to happen or the area already came from an outbreak. The third one is green or the recognition and preparation. The province may only have one case or none at all, but they still need to be ready.)
Provinces that have a fast case doubling rate and low care utilization rate were those placed under a two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine, Chua said.
Meanwhile, provinces whose number of COVID-19 cases have dwindled were placed under the general community quarantine taking effect on May 1.
“Yung mga low-risk na green, ang suggestion po namin, GCQ muna sila pero kung tuloy tuloy yung improvement, walang deterioration ay pwede nang mag-relax starting May 16,” Chua added.
(Those that are low-risk and are under the green category, our suggestion was to place them under GCQ. But if they continue to improve and there is no deterioration, measures may be relaxed starting May 16.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas in Luzon.
The President also placed several areas in Visayas and Mindanao under ECQ, subject for rechecking after April 30.
The ECQ suspends all public transportation, bans mass gatherings and shutters businesses excluding those involved in food, medicine and health care.
Duterte, meanwhile, placed “low-risk” areas for the coronavirus under a “new normal,” or the general community quarantine (GCQ).
Under GCQ, the partial reopening of non-leisure shops in malls and resume priority and essential construction projects are allowed. Public transportation’s operation may also resume, but at a reduced capacity.
The list of provinces under ECQ and GCQ may be found here.
As of Friday, the Philippines recorded 7,192 COVID-19 cases. Of the number, 477 persons have died while 762 persons have recovered.
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