Roque: Metro Manila might still shift to MGCQ

There is still hope for Metro Manila to eventually shift to the less restrictive Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)

The capital region, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, has retained its general community quarantine (GCQ) status for the month of October. The Palace earlier cited the downtrend in new coronavirus cases in Metro Manila based on the monitoring of a local research group.

"May pag-asa naman po as reported by UP OCTA Group. Ang growth rate naman po natin ay bumagsak din tapos iyong ating attack rate ay bumabagsak din (There is hope as reported by UP OCTA Group. Our growth rate has dropped while our attack rate is also deceasing) so, there’s always hope," Roque said during a press briefing Tuesday, when asked if it will be long time for Metro Manila to graduate to MGCQ.

Roque explained that Metro Manila kept its GCQ status after the government took into consideration several factors, including the new indicators -- the two-week growth rate and average daily attack rate.

He said Metro Manila's two-week growth rate, which measures how quickly the number of cases are changing over a period of time, is recorded at "medium" level at 45 percent.  The two-week growth rate of more than 200 percent is ranked "high," between 0 to 200 percent is "medium," and while 0 percent is "low."

Roque said Metro Manila's daily new attack rate reached "medium" with 5.8 cases for every 100,000 population. The attack rate is the number of new cases over a two-week period divided by the population of the local government unit. The daily attack rate of more than 7 percent is ranked "high," rate between 1 and 7 is "medium," while below 1 is considered "low."

According to Roque, the critical care capacity of Metro Manila also remained sufficient that allowed it to keep its GCQ status. "Although we are moderate in terms of growth rate and average daily attack rate, we are below critical and we can still take care of those with severe and critical cases," he said.

In Metro Manila, at least 51 percent of the 4,000 isolation beds are occupied while 58 percent of the 755 intensive care unit beds are in use as of Sept. 28.

Other measures taken into consideration to determine an area’s risk classification by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) are epidemic curve for cases based on symptom onset date, epidemic curve for deaths, positivity rate , case doubling time and reproduction number, and health system capacity of the concerned local government unit.

"We need to live with COVID and in spite COVID, kaya po iyan, pag-ingatan lang po ang ating mga buhay para tayo po ay makapaghanapbuhay (Let’s take care of our health so we can continue our livelihood),” Roque said.

Meantime, the task force has approved the recommendations of the Department of Health (DOH) in the operationalization of the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE).

CODE, initiated by DOH, involves active case finding through house-to-house symptom checks, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for symptomatic persons, and quarantine and isolation for those infected.

In resolution No. 75, the task force directed the DOH and the Department of Interior and Local Government to issue guidelines to expand the implementation of CODE to local government units.

The Department of Trade (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have also been ordered to localize CODE to different workplaces and labor sectors. The CODE plans must be complementary to the implementation of the minimum health standards.