OCTA Research fellow and infectious disease expert Benjamin Co said the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation should not only be looked at through reproduction number but also from the current status of the country’s healthcare system.
Co said several factors, most importantly the healthcare sector, should be to be taken into consideration before deciding to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
“It is not just the numbers,” he said during a DZBB interview.
“Kasi pwede bumaba ang reproduction number pero kung sampung libo ang kaso at ang reproduction number mo ay 1 ibig sabihin may sampung libo [kaso] ka araw-araw. (Because the reproduction number can go down but if there are 10,000 cases and your reproduction number is 1, it means you still have 10,000 cases every day),” Co explained.
“Kasi hindi yan bababa kung hindi mo ibababa nang mababang mababa yung reproduction number. Even though sabihin natin kung yung reproduction number lang ang pagbabasehan eh di magiging stable tayo sa sampung libo every day. (Because that won’t go down if you don’t lower the reproduction number extremely. Even though, let’s say, if only the reproduction number is the basis, the number of cases will be stable at 10,000 every day),” he added.
Co noted that it will be more significant to look at the current status of the healthcare sector, particularly in Metro Manila.
The latest COVID-19 reproduction number in the country is around 1.40, while in Metro Manila it is about 1.20, he said.
“It is not only the reproduction number that we are looking at kasi [because] while the cases are still high a reproduction number of 1 means that ..whatever our number is now yun din ang [that will also be the] number next week. Kailangan bumaba yung reproduction number ideally 0.5 kasi 0.5 kung sampung libo bababa sa kalahati. (The reproduction number must be reduced ideally 0.5 because 0.5 is half the 10,000),” Co said.
“Hindi lang po dapat yun ang tignan dapat din tignan ang buong picture katulad ng healthcare system. (Aside from that, one should also look at the whole picture like the healthcare system),” he added.
Co pointed out that patients who had received critical care need about two weeks to a month before they will be discharged from hospitals, causing undue pressure on healthcare workers and facilities.
“Kapag napuno mo na agad (intensive care units) hihintayin mo dalawang linggo, tatlong linggo minsan buwan bago mailabas. Hindi sya ganun kadali iresolve lalo na those cases that are severe and those that need critical care. (Once they are filled up, one will wait two weeks, three weeks sometimes a month before the patients will be released. It is not that easy to resolve the situation, especially those cases that are severe and those that need critical care),” he said.