UP report warns of COVID-19 spike in Metro Manila if restrictions are eased

A spike in COVID-19 infections may happen in Metro Manila if quarantine measures are eased, researchers from the University of the Philippines says.

5/23/2020 2:44:00 AM

A spike in COVID-19 infections may happen in Metro Manila if quarantine measures are eased, researchers from the University of the Philippines says.

A spike in COVID-19 infections may happen in Metro Manila if quarantine measures are eased, researchers from the University of the Philippines says.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23)— A spike in COVID-19 infections may happen in Metro Manila if quarantine measures are eased, researchers from the University of the Philippines said on Friday.In a report covering key provinces and local government units based on Health department data, the UP researchers recommended for the national government to “continue significant restrictions in NCR (National Capital Region) and Cebu City and expand the same as necessary to other high-risk areas.”

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“Our goal ultimately is not just to flatten the curve but to bend it downwards,” the researchers said in their 'COVID-19 Forecasts in the Philippines: Post-ECQ Report.’The report presented the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in each of the 17 local government units (LGU) in Metro Manila based on levels of transmission as of May 16. These were used for their forecasts for June 15, or projections for the next 30 days.

“The projections assume trends continue, i.e. there is a continued implementation of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). Any modifications in ECQ may cause an increase in the number of total cases and deaths,”the researchers said.The report also tackled conditions in provinces and LGUs outside Metro Manila.

In particular, the researchers said the situation in Zamboanga City, Batangas and Davao City deserves close monitoring “as the risk levels of the pandemic in these areas are still significant.”They added that vigilance is still needed even in areas under the general community quarantine “to ensure that that any new cases are immediately detected and new outbreaks prevented.”

On a nationwide scale, the UP report classified areas into low, medium and high risk.The high-risk areas are Batangas, Cebu City, Davao City, Metro Manila and Zamboanga City.Under the medium risk are Lapu Lapu City and Mandaue City in Cebu province, Laguna, Oriental Mindoro and Samar.

The low-risk areas are Albay, Antique, Bataan, Benguet, Bulacan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Ifugao, Iloilo, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro, Pampanga, Quezon, Rizal, Romblon, Tarlac and Cebu province (excluding Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu Lapu City).

“All other provinces not indicated have no new COVID-19 cases for the week May 10 to 16, are in the safe category,” according to the report.Pending a cure for the disease and to sustain gains from quarantine policies, the report recommended for the government to make sure that health systems are capable of detecting, testing, isolating and treating every case of COVID-19, as well as tracing every contact.

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It should also effectively enforce the rules on physical distancing and health safeguards especially in malls and other establishments allowed to operate under the modified enhanced community quarantine.As the government reviews and decides on the next quarantine rules beyond May 31, the UP researchers said policy-makers should “undertake, commission if necessary, studies on people’s mobilities in areas under quarantine.”

“Given the recent decision by government to loosen restrictions and based on the experience of other countries, the likelihood of a resurgence seems to be not a question of if but where, and how bad. The virus is still with us and we have not yet developed herd immunity,” the UP researchers said.

The 'COVID-19 Forecasts in the Philippines: Post-ECQ Report' was authored by Guido David of the Institute of Mathematics, assistant professor Ranjit Singh Rye of the Department of Political Science, and Ma. Patricia Agbulos, an associate at OCTA Research.

Read more: CNN Philippines »

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