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MECQ in August 'big factor' in flattening COVID-19 curve in NCR —UP expert

The implementation of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) during the first two weeks of August was a "big factor" in the flattening of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and nearby Calabarzon area, a UP expert said Monday.

“Meron talagang koneksyon doon 'yung MECQ. Malaking factor 'yan kasi noong start ng August nasa 1.5 'yung R0 natin. Pataas pa noon. Noong matapos 'yung MECQ, nasa 1.1 na lang tayo,” Dr. Guido David of UP-OCTA Research team told Unang Hirit.

David on Sunday said reproduction number (R0) of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region dropped from 1.5 in August to 0.94 in September.

The R0 or R-naught describes the reproduction of COVID-19 cases. An R0 below 1 means a flattened curve, David said.

In August, David actually projected that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is approaching a flattened curve towards September.

"Ayun nga 'yung nangyari kasi kahit nag-general community quarantine (GCQ) tayo tingin natin na-sustain natin ang gains, na-maintain natin 'yung momentum, yung trajectory ng pababa,” David said on Unang Hirit.

He also credited the implementation of a stricter general community quarantine following the MECQ for the latest development.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed NCR and Calabarzon under MECQ from August 4 to 18 in response to the call of medical frontliners for them to have time to rest and recalibrate their strategies in addressing the pandemic.

David, however, said flattening the curve does not mean there will be no more new COVID-19 cases. He said it only means the number of COVID-19 cases is already declining.

“Sa ngayon, we're still seeing 310,000 to 330,000 total cases by the end of September. Bumaba na actually 'yan,” he said.

Malacañang reminded the public to continue observing minimum health standards such as wearing face masks and face shields, frequent handwashing and social distancing.

“Alam ninyo po bagama’t we did a good job, ang katotohanan po diyan, resulta po ito ng MECQ na dineklara two weeks ago,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a media briefing on Monday.

“Ipagpatuloy po natin ang gains natin noong two weeks ago noong tayo po ay nasa MECQ.”

On Sunday, the Department of Health reported 2,839 new infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines to 237,365, with 184,687 recoveries and 3,875 deaths. --with Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News