Gov’t efforts vs COVID-19 slowing down infection rate – UP expert, Dizon
By Gabriela Baron and Dhel Nazario
The University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research said government’s effort in fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is proving to be effective that has resulted in the decline in new infections.
But it is not recommending that (NCR or Metro Manila) be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) after the lapse of GCQ on August 31.
Despite reverting to a more relaxed lockdown, Dr. Guido David in an interview over DzBB Saturday said that the flattening of the curve is still achievable.
"Sa ngayon, hindi pa naman namin nakikitang tumataas , kaya optimistic naman kami na itong GCQ (general community quarantine) baka iba na sya sa GCQ dati kasi mas maingat na tayo ngayon (So far, we haven't seen the cases rise that is why we are optimistic that this GCQ is different from the previous one because the people now are more careful," David said.
He cited the mandatory wearing of face shield in malls, offices, and public transportation as an effective measure to curb the spread of the virus.
Improving contact tracing
David also lauded the country's "improving" contact tracing, isolation of probable cases, and increased testing capacity.
"Yung contact tracing natin pinapaganda na natin, yung isolation and treatment, may lapses tayo dati dyan sa implementation, ngayon mukhang naayos na natin yan. Yung testing, nag-increase pa. Yung local government, baka mas proactive na sila ngayon sa pag manage ng localized lockdowns (Our contact tracing has improved. We seem to have fixed our lapses in implementing isolation and treatment. The testing has increased too. Our local government units are more proactive now in managing localized lockdowns)," he added.
"Sa Cebu nung nag-GCQ na ulit sila, hindi naman tumaas ang bilang ng kaso. Parang natuto na sila at siguro nasanay na dun sa new normal, kaya patuloy pa ring pagbaba yung kaso. Yung Cebu, as an example, 300 cases sila per day nung nag-ECQ sila, tapos bumaba na. Ngayon nakaka-80 cases na lang sila per day. So yun yung inaasahan natin sa Metro Manila (In Cebu, when they were placed under GCQ again, their daily cases did not increase. Perhaps they already learned their lesson and have gotten used to the new normal so their cases continue to decrease. Cebu used to have 300 cases per day when they were placed under ECQ. Now they only have 80 cases daily. And that's what we're expecting in Metro Manila)," David said.
Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar Secretary Vince Dizon backed the statement of David, saying the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila has slowed down compared to three to four weeks ago.
During a dialogue with local government officials of Quezon City, Dizon said that weeks ago, the growth rate of cases in Metro Manila reached “triple digit” or “high double digit” at 80 percent while other local government units (LGUs) are at 150 percent every two weeks.
“Ngayon po, we're very happy to report kasama ang Quezon City, nasa low-double digit na lang nasa 20 percent-30 percent na lang ang ating growth rate, so ibig sabihin po bumabagal na ang pagdami ng kaso sa NCR kasama na ang Quezon City (Now, we’re very happy to report that our growth rate is now low-double digit at 20 percent-30 percent. It means the increase in cases is slowing down in NCR, including Quezon City),” Dizon said, saying this a very huge accomplishment compared to the past weeks.
The testing czar reiterated the need for consistency and assured all the LGUs as well as the Greater Metro Manila area, where many of the cases come from, that they will be supported by the NTF and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Hospital still full
Earlier, the research group said that flattening of the COVID-19 curve is "possible" by end of August to September because the virus reproductive rate is going down from 1.5 to 1.1.
However, David noted that UP OCTA team still would not recommend Metro Manila to shift to moderate general community quarantine (MGCQ).
"Hindi natin mare-recommend yan kasi puno pa rin yung mga hospital natin para makapag-MGCQ tayo. Obserbahan muna natin (We're not recommending MGCQ because our hospitals are still full. We should observe first)," he said.
"Buti nang ma-retain tayo ng GCQ tapos hintayin natin na bumaba pa yung bilang ng kaso, kahit mapababa natin ng 2,000-1,000 cases per day, tsaka tayo mag-open ng iba pang economic sectors (It would be better for us to retain the GCQ status and wait for the number of new cases to decrease, let's say 2,000-1,000 cases per day, then we can open other economic sectors)," David added.
“Buti nang ma-retain tayo ng GCQ tapos hintayin natin na bumaba pa yung bilang ng kaso, kahit mapababa natin ng 2,000-1,000 cases per day, tsaka tayo mag-open ng iba pang economic sectors (It would be better for us to retain the GCQ status and wait for the number of new cases to decrease, let's say 2,000-1,000 cases per day, then we can open other economic sectors),” David added.
Meanwhile, Dizon said there are teams now in Region VI and Bacolod.
Retired General Mel Feliciano and Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu were assigned by the President to Negros Occidental and Iloilo, respectively, to immediately address the spike in COVID-19 cases there.