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UP experts recommend MECQ for Bacolod, Iligan, Iloilo City

The more stringent modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) should be imposed over Bacolod City, Iligan City, and Iloilo City to arrest the surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections there, experts said Monday.

The University of the Philippines (UP)-OCTA Research team observed a rise in cases in the three cities in its latest report to the government’s inter-agency COVID-19 task force.

The experts urged a 15-day MECQ “to contain the surge in COVID-19 cases” and “to buy time for the hospitals and the health workers to deal with current challenges and to ensure that the health system... will not be overwhelmed.”

The researchers said that the COVID-19 bed occupancy rate as of August 28 was 72 percent in Bacolod, 49 percent in Iligan, and 83 percent in Iloilo.

Bacolod has so far logged 1,108 confirmed cases while Iligan has recorded 278 and Iloilo has tallied 911 infections.

The experts also called on the national government to deploy more manpower and other resources to the said areas as well as scale up testing, tracing, and isolation efforts.

The Philippines has 220,819 COVID-19 cases with 157,562 recoveries and 3,558 recoveries as of Monday afternoon. 

NCR, Calabarzon

Meanwhile, the experts said the government may sustain the general community quarantine prevailing over Metro Manila and Calabarzon “with the stricter implementation of health standards and regulations [and] more efficient local lockdowns.”

Aside from improving the health system capacity and testing, tracing, and isolation programs, they also called for enhanced cooperation between local governments and the private sector to ensure the safety of workplaces and communities.

The UP-OCTA researchers said the reproduction number in Metro Manila decreased to 1.01 between August 23 and 29 from 1.05 during August 16 to 22.

The positivity rate in the capital region also remained at 14 percent from August 16 to 29, a dip from 16 percent between August 9 and 15.

Although the experts said that bed and intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy in Metro Manila decreased, they also found that the critical care utilization rates in several cities were still in the high risk zone or over 70 percent.

The ten cities where COVID-19 bed occupancy was at critical level as of August 23 were Muntinlupa, Marikina, Valenzuela, Malabon, Taguig, Las Piñas, Mandaluyong, Manila, Quezon City, and Makati.

The ICU utilization rate as of August 23 in the same areas, except Malabon, were also in the critical zone.

Fifty-five percent of the total COVID-19 cases nationwide were logged in Metro Manila.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce his latest directives on quarantine restrictions across the country later on Monday. — BM, GMA News