Filtered By: Topstories

Enhanced community quarantine helped slow spread of COVID-19 -- modeling tool

The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) helped slow the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), decreasing the projected number of cases that might have reached millions without such an intervention, a modeling instrument shows.

The Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) tool also shows an increase in health systems capacity could further lead to a lower number of cases.

"Kung hindi nagdeklara ng ECQ nung Marso 19, posibleng bilang ng mga confirmed cases ay aabot ng 2 million sa June 21 dito lang po sa NCR," said the project leader, Ma. Regina Justina Estuar, Ph.D., of the Ateneo de Manila University, citing a projection.

"Dahil sa ECQ na dapat hanggang April 14, bumaba po ang projection ng posibleng confirmed cases ng halos kalahating milyon. Ito ay bumaba dahil inaasahan nating tumaas din ang health systems capacity at limitado ang paggalaw ng tao dahil sa pagpapatupad ng ECQ," she said at a virtual presser on Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte extended the ECQ to April 30 and has directed government officials to continue discussions on whether to lift, extend or modify the quarantine.

Citing a projection generated by the tool, she said: "Kung tatanggalin ang ECQ ng April 30 at matataasan natin ang health systems capacity ng 40%, malaki ang pagbaba ng confirmed cases sa 12,000 na lamang."

The ECQ helped lower and slow down the peak of confirmed cases, she said, even as she stressed that several factors, including the capacity of health systems, are involved.

This capacity is measured through the readiness of hospitals in terms of the number of beds, personnel, personal protective equipment, as well as testing capabilities, the training of personnel, and the turnaround time of test results.

For example, a 50% health systems capacity means authorities can manage 50% of the confirmed cases, she said.

The FASSSTER tool is the official modeler tool used by health planners, local government units, and even the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in making decisions relating to COVID-19, Estuar said.

The tool extracts and processes data from the Department of Health's epidemiology bureau for its projections on the number of confirmed cases, which differ depending on the possible scenarios, and shows how well the government's interventions worked.

Funded by the Department of Science and Techology's Philippine Council for Health Research and Development since 2016, FASSSTER initially modeled the spread of diseases like dengue, typhoid fever, and measles in the Philippines.

Asked if a lifting of ECQ is advisable, Estuar said there are several factors to consider other than the number of cases. These include the health care system's capacity and socioeconomic and security indicators, she said.

Latest figures from the DOH show that 6,459 people have been infected by the most recently discovered coronavirus in the Philippines. Of this number, 428 patients have died and 613 have recovered.—AOL, GMA News