Extending the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces for another 15 days will be a big help in further reducing the transmission rate of the virus and finally take control of the pandemic, a researcher from the University of the Philippines (UP) said.
Prof. Ranjit Rye, founder of the UP OCTA Research Team, said on Monday that extending the modified enhanced community quarantine will not only lower the average daily cases of COVID-19 in the country but will also ensure that hospitals and healthcare workers will not be overwhelmed by the increasing number of cases.
"Ang nakikita namin ay nagdedecline na ang trend kahit na napakarami ng mga cases. Napakagandang sitwasyon na into dahil may window of opportunity na tayo. Nakikita natin na when we are in strict quarantine, napapababa 'yung transmission," Rye said in an interview.
(What we are seeing now is that the trend is already declining even though the cases are still high. This is a very good situation as there is a window of opportunity. We see that when we are in strict quarantine, the transmission rate decreases)
The political science professor added that the transmission rate is expected to be below one, while the daily caseload will also decline by 50 percent should the MECQ be extended, adding that the country will finally "gain momentum and control of the pandemic that we lost in the last two months."
According to Rye, the government should learn from the lessons of Cebu that has flattened the curve after the imposition of a stricter lockdown.
"Bababa 'yung reproductive rate natin. Ngayon, nasa 1.12 sa buong Pilipinas, at nasa 1.14 naman sa NCR. Malapit na tayo na bumaba pa, gusto lang natin ng kaunting panahon para masustain yung gains gaya ng model na ginawa sa Cebu," he said.
(Our reproductive rate will go down. As of now, it is at 1.12 throughout the Philippines, and at 1.14 in NCR. It will further go down, we just want a little time to sustain the gains like the model in Cebu)
"Bakit hindi natin gawan ng pagkakataon na ma-supress pa lalo itong pagkalat ng virus? Mas mabubuksan ang society, mas mabilis mag-jumpstart ang economic recovery kapag sinupress ang virus. Iyon ang gusto namin hindi yung dadami ang kaso, magsasara, dadami ulit at magsasara," Rye added.
(Why don't we take this as an opportunity to further suppress the spread of the virus? We will quickly open society, and jumpstart the economic recovery faster when the virus is suppressed. That is what we want, not a cycle of increasing cases, then lockdown over again)
Based on their latest report, the team, which is a group of researchers and scientists studying the outbreak in the Philippines, projected at least 210,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the month if the MECQ remains.
The university professor added that the government cannot open the economy properly if we cannot manage and address the COVID-19 situation.
Rye said that their team will respect whatever decision the President will come up regarding the restrictions and urged the public to still observe strictly basic health and safety protocols such as proper handwashing, wearing of face mask and face shield, and physical distancing.
"Kahit naman ano ang desisyo ng gobyerno, dapat ay mag-ingat pa rin tayo at maging maagap. Dapat magtulungan tayo. Malaking role ang gagampanan ng taumbayan dito because in the end, what we do as an individual, as a citizen, is more important than everything the government does," he added.
(No matter what the government's decision, we must still be careful and proactive. We must work together. The people will play a big role here because in the end, what we do as an individual, as a citizen, is more important than everything the government does)