The government should extend the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to slow down the increase in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, urged Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force (NTF) fighting the COVID-19.
“An extension of two weeks will be effective,” he said during an interview with CNN Philippines on Tuesday.
He pointed out that “in the last five to seven days, we saw some downward trend.”
“But I don’t think it will be sustained if there will be mobility,” he said. He added that returning to general community quarantine (GCQ) the areas under MECQ will increase the mobility of the public and the spread of COVID-19.
Leachon warned the Philippines still has a “shaky” health care system and the government has just begun implementing its One Hospital Command Center, its contact tracing infrastructure, and its isolation and quarantine areas.
“Hindi pa tayo ready lalo na ngayon napakataas ng cases na 7,000 lalo na sa Metro Manila (We are not ready yet especially since we recorded almost 7,000 cases in one day especially in Metro Manila),” he said.
President Duterte placed Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, and Batangas under MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18 following calls by the medical community to impose stricter quarantine restrictions due to the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases.
Leachon reminded that what the medical community originally sought for was the imposition of ECQ but the government settled to impose MECQ due to “the tight balance of health and economy.”
The doctor said the imposition of ECQ in Cebu has been effective during the time it had more COVID-19 cases than Metro Manila.
“Cebu has flattened the curve and it is back to re-open the economy,” he said.
Leachon also supported the advice of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano for families to wear masks inside their homes.
“In Metro Manila, hindi lahat maa-accommodate natin in the isolation and quarantine areas and magaling talaga mag-mask din ho tayo sa bahay considering ang kalat ngayon (In Metro Manila, not everyone can be accommodated in the isolation and quarantine areas and so it is better we wear masks inside our homes),” he said.
“Ang local transmission ngayon nasa household (the local transmission is in the household),” he added, as he cited that numerous cases have shown that persons going to work return home and infect their parents and grandparents.
The doctor explained that studies have shown that 99 percent of the prevention of the transmission comes from the combination of wearing masks, physical distancing, proper hand-washing, and the wearing of face shields.
Leachon also urged the government to provide free masks to the poor.
“Ang pinapakausap lang natin, since mahihirap sila, we can provide sana free masks doon sa mahihirap because yung middle class and upper class pwede naman sila bumili ng sa kanila (I appeal to the government to provide free masks to the poor since the middle class and upper class can afford to buy them),” he said.