OCTA calls for one-week extension of MECQ in NCR Plus areasBy VIRGIL LOPEZ,GMA News
Experts monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic in the country have recommended a one-week extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite.
“One more week of an MECQ will allow the ongoing decrease in daily case numbers to stabilize,” the OCTA Research group said on Tuesday.
The group said the decrease in case numbers is currently uneven among local government units in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces collectively known as NCR Plus.
“Some LGUs have sustained decreases in numbers. Others do not. Our concern is that a premature return to GCQ (general community quarantine) would trigger spikes in some LGUs that would overflow into adjacent cities and municipalities,” the researchers said.
Hospitals in the NCR also remain at critical capacity, they added.
The OCTA Research said hospital occupancy would drop to pre-surge levels by the third week of May if the reproduction number, which refers to the number of people that the virus can infect, will go down to 0.8.
"One more week of an MECQ will continue to force down the reproduction number to decongest our hospitals more quickly," it said.
“To prevent the surge from re-surging, we will need to enhance our testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation procedures to mitigate this transmission."
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said he is in favor of extending MECQ in NCR Plus areas by one or two weeks because the situation of the healthcare system has not yet improved.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will meet on Tuesday to draft a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on the quarantine status next month for NCR Plus areas, which have been under MECQ since April 12.
Specifically, it will review the attack rate and the hospital care utilization rate as well as the status of the economy.
Malacañang said Duterte is expected to announce his decision on the matter on Wednesday. --KBK, GMA News