OCTA urges gov't to maintain MECQ in NCR amid lower COVID-19 reproduction number

Published April 23, 2021, 2:12 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said on Friday, April 23, that the reproduction number (R) of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Metro Manila has already decreased to 0.98.

“We’re seeing that the reproduction number has decreased to less than 1, to 0.98, and this is very good news in fact for the National Capital Region (NCR). It shows that we have made very significant gains over the past three weeks. What we hope to do is to sustain this gain,” David said in a webicon organized by OCTA and Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

The reproduction number refers to the number of people that a single COVID-19 patient can infect.

“If the R is 1 that means one patient infects one other patient. That means the pandemic is neither increasing nor decreasing. So it is sustained at the current level. If the R stayed at 1, we are expecting and forecasting a daily caseload of 4,200 cases in the NCR,” OCTA Research fellow, molecular biologist-priest Nicanor Austriaco, explained.

David noted that the number of COVID-19 cases in the NCR was about 11 percent lower compared to the previous week when it was averaging more than 5,000 cases per day. About two weeks ago it was about 5,200.


Austriaco said that a gradual decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases towards the end of April will depend upon NCR’s reproduction number, which is currently “unstable.”

While the reproduction number has been decreasing, hospital bed occupancy and intensive care unit occupancy are still fairly high for many local government units (LGUs) in the NCR, David noted.

“How fast we decongest our hospitals depends upon the sustained reproduction number that we are able to maintain in the next few weeks,” Austriaco pointed out.

To lower hospital occupancy or the healthcare utilization rate, he said that “we must aggressively lower the R so that the R is less than 1 for several weeks because we have a 27-day confinement period for COVID-19 survivors.”

Austriaco said sustaining the momentum has to be planned carefully with the length of the implementation of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

“We urge the national government not to exit MECQ until at least the R is below 0.9 in a sustained manner,” he said.

“We are looking for (a) consistent pattern of decrease throughout all the 17 LGUs for a significant period of time before we know we have successfully tackled the surge,” he added.

David noted that only Pateros and Navotas have fewer COVID-19 cases in the past week.

Moreover, 14 out of the 17 LGUs had a one-week negative growth rate.

“This does not indicate a continuous downward trend but it’s a good indicator,” David said.

“San Juan has the biggest decrease compared to the previous week of 45 percent decrease, followed by Navotas with 43 percent. Even those LGUs with had a positive growth rate did not have a significant positive growth rate. Only about 8 percent or less increase. This is important because a few weeks ago many LGUs were having an increase of 60 or even 70 percent every week,” he added.