MECQ possible next week if COVID transmission rate declines, says OCTA fellow
MANILA, Philippines — A less stringent quarantine status may be imposed next week if the reproduction number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila is reduced to 1.2, a member of the OCTA Research group said on Tuesday.
As of Monday, the reproduction number in the National Capital Region (NCR) has gone down to 1.53, OCTA Research fellow Professor Guido David said in an interview over Teleradyo.
The reproduction number or R-naught is the transmission rate of a disease, where the number equals how many people a patient can infect. An R-naught of one means each patient can infect another potential patient.
David said that after the second week of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed on the “NCR Plus” bubble covering Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, the reproduction number of cases is seen to go down to 1.2.
“Kung ganon, medyo malapit na siya sa one, kahit mag-MECQ (modified ECQ), kaya nating mapababa [yung reproduction number] sa 1 within the following week,” he added.
(If that’s the case, it’s nearing 1, we can transition to the MECQ. We can reduce the reproduction number to 1 within the following week.)
If the reproduction number does not go down, David said the ECQ can be extended.
“Kung ‘di bumababa masyado yung reproduction number, mahihirapan tayo kung magre-relax na tayo agad pero mukhang mangyayari, bababa mga 1.3 to 1.2,” he said.
(If it does not go down, we will have a hard time relaxing restrictions, but it looks like it will be reduced to 1.3 to 1.2.)
“Pwede nating i-reevaluate depende sa indicators natin. Pero yung main indicator na tinitignan natin, yung reproduction number, kung for some reason ‘di bumaba, possible na ma-recommend natin na i-extend pero so far mukhang yung indicators, mukhang aabot naman tayo ng mga 1.2 or baka even 1.1 pa nga. Pero medyo optimistic yung 1.1,” he added.
(We can re-evaluate depending on our indicators. Our main indicator that we are looking at is the reproduction number, if for some reason it does not go down, we can recommend the extension of the ECQ pero so far, our indicators tell that we can reduce the reproduction number to 1.2 or even 1.1. But the 1.1 is a little bit optimistic.)
Up to 12K daily cases
Meanwhile, David said that the country could still log up to 12,000 daily cases in the coming days.
“Based dun sa trend, sa signs na nakikita natin, hindi pa bababa ganyang level,” he said when asked if the number of daily infections will be reduced to 5,000 in the coming days.
OCTA Research earlier projected that the total COVID-19 cases in the country may reach over 1 million before the end of April.
But David said this is “not actually alarming” considering that this is already the total number of cases in the country. On Monday, the country’s COVID-19 tally already exceeded 800,000 cases.
Problems with testing, tracing
Further, David said that the surge of COVID-19 cases hampered the conduct of testing and tracing in the country.
“Yung problema diyan is compounded yung effect ng pagdami ng cases. Bakit natin masasabing compounded? Ibig sabihin, dahil maraming cases, nahihirapan na yung testing natin, nahihirapan na rin yung contact tracing natin at hindi tayo nakakapag-isolate effectively,” he said.
(The problem is that the effect of the rising number in cases is compounded. Why do we say it’s compounded? Because if there’s a lot of cases, we will have a hard time with testing and tracing, which means we cannot isolate effectively.)
Unlike before, David said only three contacts are being traced now for every confirmed COVID-19 case in NCR.
This means only the immediate family members are being traced for possible COVID-19 infection.
“Yung contact tracing natin, bumababa yung efficiency natin dahil marami yung cases. Kunwari sa NCR, dati sabihin natin, 1,000 cases per day, so pag maka-contact trace tayo ng mga 15,000 cases, malaki yung efficiency, 1 is to 15. Pero ngayon dahil mga nasa 5,000 cases tayo per day sa NCR, yung 15,000 na yun, kung ganon pa rin ang nako-contact trace natin, mababa na yung efficiency natin, 1 is to 3,” he said.
(The efficiency of our contact tracing has dropped because the number of cases spiked. For example in NCR, before we have about 1,000 daily cases, we can trace 15,000, so that’s 1 is to 15. But now, NCR has 5,000 daily cases, so with the 15,000 that we are able to trace, that is a ratio of 1 is to 3.)
David also highlighted the importance of the arrival of vaccines in the country to prevent another surge of COVID-19 cases.
“Importante yung bakuna moving forward. ‘Pag naka-receive tayo ng maraming bakuna, hindi na mangyayari itong surge ulit na ito. Ito na yung last time na mangyayari yung surge,” he said.
(What’s important is that the vaccine is moving forward. If we receive sufficient [number of] vaccine, this surge will never happen again. This will be the last time the surge will happen.)
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