Whether GCQ or MECQ by May 15, OCTA seeks calibrated, slow exit strategy to sustain 'good' trends

Published May 10, 2021, 2:08 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The OCTA Research Group on Monday, May 10, urged the government to stay cautious when deciding on new quarantine rules by May 15 to sustain the gains of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ implementation in Metro Manila and nearby areas in the past few weeks.


“We will support whatever the government decides. What we’re suggesting is caution. What we’re suggesting is a calibrated slow exit strategy so that we can sustain the trends,” OCTA Research fellow Prof. Ranjit Rye said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

“Nasa GCQ na tayo halos (We are almost in GCQ), if you think about it. Only certain industries are closed down to prevent transmission. But if they comply with minimum public health standards, if they have the engineering to prevent transmission within their business establishments, and if their employees are vaccinated I think we can slowly open up. The key here is to have a gradual exit. Whatever the government calls it.. a gradual exit from the quarantine so as not to reverse the trend,” he added.

Rye noted that the coronavirus disease’s (COVID-19) average daily attack rate and positivity rate in the NCR remain high, even though the reproduction number is down to 0.67.

“We’re not yet where we are supposed to be as far as managing the crisis in the region is concerned,” he said.

“We support the government if it extends the MECQ as suggested by some of our fellows between one or two weeks or if it decides to go on GCQ but with modifications, with more strict monitoring of minimum public health standards not just in public areas but also in the private sector for example in restaurants and malls then we will support that,” he added.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Butch Ong pointed out that while trends are going down, they are still reversible.

“When we say it’s going down steadily hindi siya definite na pababa na agad (it is not yet definite that it will go down fast). Any point in time, maaaring tumaas pa rin ito (it may still increase),” Ong said.

“The MECQ that we are in right now is not the same MECQ that we were in in August [2020]. So if you look at the mobility numbers we are actually much more comparable to a GCQ. We understand of course that the government wishes to reopen in order to revive our economy and provide the necessary resources for those our kababayans who are hungry. But as my colleagues in OCTA pointed out, we want to sustain the good trends that we have had so far,” said molecular biologist and priest Nicanor Austriaco, also a member of the OCTA Research Group.

He noted that if the current reproduction number is sustained, hospital occupancy will be below the 70 percent critical level by June.

“One of the additional reasons we can provide for a slow, gradual reopening is to allow the national government to increase and enhance the nursing staff and the healthcare worker staff that would allow all the beds that are available to be staffed adequately at a standard of care that provides what is needed for our kababayans,” Austriaco said.