OCTA Research chief Guido David on Friday, March 5 urged authorities to base their decision on easing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions on the result of localized lockdowns to better manage the advent of new COVID variants.
“We are not a proponent of lockdowns per se. We understand the grave impact of the pandemic in the economy,” David said in an ANC interview.
He pointed out that the decision to loosen restrictions should balance the public health and economy.
“We are supporting loosening restrictions at the same time we are aware that Metro Manila is undergoing a surge because the past we averaged 900 cases per day. Two weeks ago it was 400, so it doubled in two weeks,” David said.
“If we are not careful we could be at another breaking point this month. That is possible. At least right now we are going to see how the localized lockdowns will work because that is important moving forward. Once we loosen restrictions we will be depending on localized lockdowns,” he added.
David cited the local lockdowns implemented in Pasay City to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases in the metropolis.
Currently, he said Pasay City has an average of 150 cases of COVID-19 per day.
“Back in August when we had to go to MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), they where averaging less with only 125 cases per day. This is the worst situation that Pasay has been in the entire history of the pandemic,” David said.
“It is not too late. We could still reverse the trend but that requires not just the local government doing its job but also the cooperation of the people. That’s why it is important for us to keep on harping on the message that we need to be more strict with our health protocols, (such as) wearing face mask, face shield,” he added.
The OCTA expert noted that the threat or possibility that new COVID-19 variants are circulating should serve as a public reminder to be stricter in implementing minimum health standards.
“This is a different version, its 50 percent more infectious and that is why it is important for us to be more disciplined now,” David said.
He said looking at the downward trend in number of cases is one of the factors that has to be considered before easing restrictions.
The proportion of severe cases against mild cases and mortality rates should be also evaluated, he noted.
“The focus is more on containing the spread that is happening. If we can do that we can show that localized lockdowns will work and that is a big factor moving forward in loosening our restrictions,” David said.
“We are in the interest of public health. We just want to help. We are not trying to dictate what the direction of our decision should be. We are based on science. We are not political and we just give the recommendations the best scientific background that we can. We based it on international standards and practices,” he added.
David also urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Let’s all be vaccinated if we can. This is important for our country moving forward. We won’t be able to restore the economy if not enough people are vaccinated. Regardless of which vaccine is available I think these have all been verified by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and that should give us enough confidence already that these are safe vaccine for us,” he said.
“Right now we cannot really be very selective because the supply side is very limited in the international market. We hope to get this brand of vaccine but the reality is, for example the Pfizer and Moderna, they will not be producing vaccines in large quantities. So above of our vaccination program will have to come from other vaccines and that includes AstraZeneca and Sinovac, for example, and Sinopharm when it arrives,” he added.