Without MECQ, it may take 10 weeks to reverse COVID-19 upward trend -OCTA Research

Published March 27, 2021, 1:53 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The OCTA Research Team on Saturday, March 27 renewed its call to the government to impose a two-week stricter quarantine status, as Metro Manila’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reproduction number only dropped minimally despite the implementation of the National Capital Region Plus Bubble or NCR-plus. 

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Butch Ong said Metro Manila’s reproduction number is currently at 1.94 from 2.04, dropping only by 0.1.

“So we will still stand by the 11,000 [daily new cases] projection [by the end of March]. But we hope to beat it. Pero ‘yung [but the] 11,000 by the end of the month looks like a very, very close figure based on our current R [reproduction] number,” Ong said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

“‘Yung pinag-aaralan talaga namin sa OCTA for the last several days already ‘yung datos. (We in OCTA have been studying the data for the last several days),” he said.

Ong said that if localized lockdown or the NCR Plus bubble is maintained, the reduction of COVID-19 reproduction number will remain very slow.

“We might see an improvement (in reproduction number) in about 10 weeks and that’s too long for our healthcare workers or healthcare system,” he said.

“Baka ngayon siguro baka pwede natin i-consider ang stricter community restrictions like an MECQ [modified enhanced community quarantine] for two weeks. (Maybe now we can consider stricter community restrictions like an MECQ for two weeks,” he added.

Ong said hospital capacity “has already been challenged” and will only take two more weeks before it could reach full capacity.

He said one of the best solutions to prevent hospitals from bursting at the seams is to impose tighter restrictions on community mobility.

“So ‘yung ating (if our) NCR Plus GCQ bubble if you maintain it, it could take longer for us to see a sudden decrease. Perhaps now we should consider a tighter restriction,” Ong said.

The government has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under a stricter community quarantine status called the NCR Plus bubble for two weeks – from March 22 to April 4.

“Based on last year’s performance noong nagkaroon tayo ng two-week timeout ng healthcare workers (when we had a two-week timeout for healthcare workers), the number of new cases significantly decreased within the next four months,” he said.

“Siguro ngayon (maybe now) we might need a timeout na rin (also) and we might need an MECQ again for two weeks,” he added.