OCTA: Reducing COVID-19 cases in two weeks ‘very unlikely’

Published March 23, 2021, 12:13 PM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Metro Manila may not go down within two weeks despite the government imposing additional restrictions in the metropolis and some neighboring areas, a member of an independent research group said.


OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the reproduction number of the virus in the National Capital Region (NCR) currently hovers at about 2.1, which means that one COVID-19 positive individual may infect at least two people.

“If we want to reduce the number of cases, that means we have to reduce the reproduction number from 2.1 all the way down to 1,” David said in an interview over CNN Philippines on Tuesday, March 23.

“This cannot happen in two weeks, unfortunately,” he added.

The national government has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna under a GCQ “bubble” from March 22 to April 4.

Under the two-week period, more restrictions have been implemented that included limiting the mobility of people to and from Metro Manila and the four surrounding provinces to essential travels only.

With the new restrictions in place, the government aims to reduce the number of new cases by 25 percent.

However, David noted that it took 28 days to reduce the reproduction number from about 1.7 to less than 1 when the metropolis was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine in August 2020.

“That could be sort of like a best case scenario. It would take us maybe four weeks to start having a decrease in cases just basing it on history,” he said.

“Now, I am not saying it’s impossible but it seems very unlikely to get it to reverse in two weeks,” he added.

But David noted that it would be a “big deal” if the reproduction number would be reduced to 1.5 in two weeks.

“If we could get the reproduction number to about 1.5, that’s actually very optimistic. It’s unlikely to get it below that within two weeks. Again, I’m not saying it’s impossible but it seems unlikely,” he said.

“So, if we can get it down to 1.5 to 1.6, that’s actually a big deal and I would actually be very happy to see that kind of reduction in the reproduction number,” he added.