Expert says gov’t should implement social distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread

Published March 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hanah Tabios

An infectious disease expert suggested Monday that government authorities must consider implementing drastic measures in order to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

Dr. Edsel Maurise Salvana (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Dr. Edsel Maurise Salvana

In an interview aired over ANC Early Edition, Dr. Edsel Maurise Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines-Manila, said social distancing measures include the temporary shutdown of schools, cancellation of crowd-attracting gatherings, as well as the closure of theaters and suspension of large-scale sports events “to stop the spread of COVID-19 sooner rather than later.”

Although there is no enough evidence of sustained community transmission after the localized transmission of the virus in the country, he said the government must seriously consider some options in a short span of time.

Community transmission is another form of viral transfer where infections within a population are not imported from another virus-hit area.

“If you look at the four new cases that came, the two of them had travel and the two of them had epidemiologic case of confirmed cases. Then, at this time, we don’t really have good evidence of sustained community transmission and so we might have that small window where we can initiate social distancing measures that can hopefully help lessen the bulk [of infections],” he said.

Salvana said the Chinese government had implemented the same measure in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the epidemic. However, the implementation was late, so China had a hard time containing the virus where it originated.

“For a country like ours where we have limited resources and our hospitals can have a problem if there’s a lot of cases, I think we really should think about applying these very early on so that we can flatten — in what we say in epidemiology — we can flatten the epidemiologic curve so the number of cases will not overwhelm,” he said.

By doing this, Salvana said a smaller number of people will be affected by the virus.

Meanwhile, the country’s education department has already announced the suspension of national and regional events involving students from different localities, such as the Palarong Pambansa 2020.

Read more: Marikina ‘indefinitely’ suspends Palarong Pambansa as city records 1st COVID-19 case