MECQ extension in MM not necessary -- UP expert

A research expert from the University of the Philippines (UP) said Saturday the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila is “not necessary.”

A police officer (L) speaks to a motorist at a checkpoint as they conduct identity checks during a new round of lockdown measures for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, along a road in Manila on August 4, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dr. Guido David, a member of the UP-OCTA Research, said Metro Manila is getting close to flattening the curve, noting that the region’s R-naught or basic reproduction number has dropped to 1.15 from 1.5.

The research expert added that the MECQ was effective in slowing down the trend in cases.

“Alam ko siguro na alam 'yung mga ibang tumitingin ng data, pag naririnig natin 'yung 6,000 cases, pero 'yung iba don actually backlog (I know some are probably alarmed by the 6,000 cases, but some of those are actually just backlog),” David told DZRH News in an interview.

“Pag tinitignan natin talaga 'yung trend sa test results sa mga test centers, talagang bumababa naman (When we look at the trend of test results from testing centers, there's actually a downward trend),” he added.

David expressed optimism on the government's new strategy to impose localized lockdowns instead.

“We are actually optimistic dito sa magiging strategy ng government, kahit mag GCQ (general community quarantine) tayo, tingin natin ma ma-maintain ’tong trend natin na pababa (We are actually optimistic about this strategy of government, I think even if we shift to GCQ, we will be able to maintain a downward trend),” David said.

David cited Cebu City as example where the implementation of localized lockdowns worked, stating that the city's number of daily cases went down from 300 to 90.

“Sa Cebu (City) GCQ na sila pero bumababa pa rin (ang cases), so what worked in Cebu City, i-a-apply natin sa Metro Manila (In Cebu City, the number of cses continue to go down despite being under GCQ),” he said.

The research expert said localized lockdowns coupled with more random testing, isolation, and strict implementation of the use of face shields will help in slowing down transmissions.

David, however, said that flattening the curve does not necessarily mean that the country has already succeeded in curbing the pandemic.

“First step 'yung flattening of the curve. Second step 'yung mapapaba natin ('yung cases). Possible na di na natin kailangan antayin 'yung vaccines neto, (Flattening the curve is the first step. The second step is to lessen the cases. It's actually possible that we won't no longer need to wait for the vaccine), ” he said.

David maintained his group's prediction of 200,000 cases by end of August and 300,000 by end of September.