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UP team bares 3 minimum health standards to flatten the curve

With COVID-19 cases declining in major areas in Luzon, a team of professors from the University of the Philippines said three minimum health safeguards have to be met first to sustain the flattening of the curve if the government intends to relax its quarantine protocols.

They have recommended increasing the country’s mass randomized testing capability, effective contract tracing and sufficient health facilities in isolation areas to deal with COVID-19 cases and other diseases.

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The professors said that while most cities in the National Capital Region, Calabarzon and Central Luzon have shown indications that the curve is flattening, these steps are crucial in loosening or modifying restrictions in communities.

“We caution the government on the premature relaxation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine without substantial data and without the minimum health safeguards in place in affected areas regardless of the historical number of cases,” the professors said in their forecast report on Wednesday.

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The team is composed Guido David of the UP Institute of Mathematics, Ranjit Rye of the UP Department of Political Science and Ma. Patricia Agbulos of OCTAResearch, with contributions from Erwin Alampay of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance and Emannuel Lallana, former UP faculty member and CEO of Ideacorp, Inc.

By analyzing data from NCR, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Cebu province, Panay Island and Davao City from April 1 to 26, the team was able to draw projections on new COVID-19 cases, as well as recommendations on how to move forward when the ECQ ends on May 15.

While data from NCR have shown a decrease in transmission, the team said the government must ramp up initiatives for putting in place mass testing and health protocols in the region.

“Once we confirmed that an individual is infected with the virus through mass testing, we need an efficient and effective contract tracing system to track those who could have been exposed to the infective individual,” the group said.

Among their recommendations are hiring and training more personnel to do contact tracing, using digital contact tracing apps; expanding the health system capacity especially those needed to combat COVID-19 like personal protective equipment, ventilators and isolation rooms; and scaling up health human resources to deal with the medium to long term impacts of the pandemic.

The team is also urging the Department of Health to hasten the setting up and accreditation of testing laboratories across the country and enhancing the capability of local governments to use digital technology in community-based monitoring.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 Philippines, ECQ, flatten the curve, health crisis, lockdown, pandemic, Quarantine, UP, Virus
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