Epidemiologist not yet recommending GCQ in NCR

Published April 26, 2021, 2:37 PM

by Gabriela Baron

An epidemiologist said Monday, April 26, that the National Capital Region (NCR) is not yet ready to revert back to general community quarantine (GCQ) status.


In a virtual Palace briefing, Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics Inc., bared indicators that will tell if the virus hotspot NCR can be considered “ready” for a more relaxed quarantine status.

According to Wong, R or the reproduction number of a virus defines how easily it spreads in the population. R is the average number of people on to whom an infected person will pass the virus. The higher the number, the more contagious it is.

“It tells us how well we’ve done in the past under MECQ, it doesn’t tell us how well we will do in the future under GCQ,” Wong said.

OCTA on Sunday, April 25, said the reproduction number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the NCR decreased to 0.93 for the week of April 18 to 24.

To consider NCR ready for GCQ depends on how well people complying with masking and social distancing; how fast can the national government and local government unit identify people with COVID-19 symptoms and test, isolate, and quarantine them; and how well indoor businesses with crows observe 2-out-of-3 rule, such as ventilation, masking, and social distancing.

Wong said the national government must increase the pace of vaccination to 350,000 shots per day.

“The number of 350,000 [per day] is the number we need to vaccinate 70 percent of our population,” he added, noting that the government should target to vaccinate every Filipino against the virus.

“Ideally we should be vaccinating 100 percent of our population because of the variants and the fact that we don’t know the duration of protection of the vaccines, we don’t know yet if herd immunity is achievable,” Wong continued.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), over 1.3 million Filipinos have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Wong said that the reimposition of ECQ and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in NCR and nearby provinces “worked,” however, the national and local government still need to monitor and report “on how well they are performing on these indicators.”

“Without accountability or visibility on these indicators, I would say na we’re not yet ready for GCQ.”