OCTA warns vs easing quarantine in NCR unless lower virus reproduction rate is sustained
MANILA, Philippines — A group of experts on Friday warned the government against relaxing Metro Manila’s quarantine status unless its COVID-19 reproduction rate, or the speed of the coronavirus spread, is sustained for several weeks at a low level.
OCTA Research group member Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a Filipino-American molecular biologist and Catholic priest, said Metro Manila’s COVID-19 reproduction rate should stay below 1 for several weeks before its status of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) is eased.
“We urge the national government as one possible benchmark for changing quarantine levels is not to exit the MECQ until at least the [reproduction rate] is less than 0.9 in a sustained manner,” Austriaco said in a webinar.
Metro Manila’s reproduction rate is currently at 0.99.
It was at 1.96 before the government placed NCR Plus under enhanced community quarantine from March 29 until April 11, but later downgraded to MECQ from April 12 to April 30.
Austriaco noted that Metro Manila’s COVID-19 numbers remain unstable because not all of its local government units (LGU) observe a decrease in new cases.
“So you always have the possibility that as some of the LGUs recover, there will be an outbreak in other LGUs that may spill over to the adjacent LGUs,” Austriaco said.
“We’re looking for a consistent pattern of decrease throughout all 17 LGUs for a significant period of time before we know we have successfully passed through the surge,” he added.
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