Stricter quarantine for Metro if COVID cases reach 4,000 daily

Published December 26, 2020, 4:04 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The government may need to shift Metro Manila to a stricter community quarantine should the average daily new cases reach 4,000 following the holiday season, a health expert said Saturday.

Dr. Maricar Limpin, vice president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said there is a possibility that COVID-19 cases in the capital region will surge to 4,000 a day based on the current trend.

Limpin noted that the increases in the number of cases are due to relaxed observation of minimum health protocols especially this holiday season.

“I think we need to tighten up a little ‘yung ating quarantine measures na ipinapatupad ngayon. Maaaring kailangang higipitan from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ),” Limpin said in a radio interview.

(I think we need to tighten up a little the quarantine measures that we are enforcing now. We may need to shift from GCQ to MECQ)

According to Limpin, the government should place Metro Manila in MECQ for at least two weeks to ensure that COVID-19 cases will not increase again.

“Two weeks will be okay para lang ma-remind sa mga tao na kailangang bumalik tayo sa minimum health standards kasi medyo nakakalimot na ang marami. Siguro dahil Pasko akala nila ay safe na para magsama-sama ulit at gawin ang mga dating ginagawa,” she said.

(Two weeks will be okay to remind people that we need to return to observing the minimum health standards because many have forgotten it. Maybe because it is Christmas season and they thought it is already safe to gather)

While Limpin said that healthcare workers will still be able to handle the rise in the new number of cases, this will still overwhelm them or will get them infected by the respiratory disease.

“Medyo mapapagod rin ang ating mga healthcare workers sa sobrang daming pasyente sa isang araw at dahil ine-expect rin namin na marami sa kanila ang magkakaroon ng COVID-19,” Limpin said.

(Our healthcare workers will also get a little tired because of too many patients a day and because we expect that many of them will get infected with COVID-19)

“As of now napansin namin na medyo dumami na ang kasamahan namin na nagkaroon ng COVID-19 nitong mga nakaraang linggo at marami sa kanila ang na-quarantine for 14 days,” she added.

(As of now we have noticed that the number of our colleagues who have had COVID-19 in recent weeks has increased quite a bit and many of them have been quarantined for 14 days)

Limpin reminded the public to continue observing the health guidelines such as wearing face masks and face shields and practice physical distancing as the pandemic is not yet over and the virus is still around.

She also urged the government to enhance its contact tracing efforts, especially this Christmas break when the movement of people is continuously increasing.

The OCTA Research Team reported last week that COVID-19 cases in the country could reach up to 500,000 by the end of December 2020 or at the start of 2021 if the current increasing trend will continue.

The team explained that with the current reproduction number in Metro Manila, cases in the region might reach an average of 3,000 to 4,000 a day.

OCTA also noted that the reproduction number or “r-naught” in the capital region significantly rose in the past week from 1.06 to 1.15 – the highest recorded for the last two months.

“The r-naught in the NCR has been over one for more than a week and continues to rise. This means there is a higher risk of the virus spreading exponentially in Metro Manila,” the group said.