A public health expert on Saturday called for a two-week extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ in Metro Manila and in the nearby provinces, saying relaxing the lockdown could further increase the COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.
“What is clear right now is that the increase in COVID-19 cases is unrelenting and the viral transmission has not decreased,” Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the National Task Force on the COVID-19 response, told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
“If we go down to GCG [general community quarantine], all the more that we won't be able to control the viral transmission while our health system capacity is not yet in place.”
Reimposed on Aug. 4, the MECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan will end on Aug. 18, with the government announcing new quarantine levels on Monday.
These areas had reverted to a stricter lockdown from GCQ on the appeal of exhausted health workers, who had warned that the health care system was being overwhelmed by the surge in COVID-10 cases.
Leachon feared that, with 75 percent of the workforce returning to work under GCQ, the viral transmission would further increase.
“If we go back to GCQ, many people will go back to work. We will lose our gains from MECQ because it was too short. We will lose momentum,” Leachon said.
Data received from the City Government of Manila showed that the two-week MECQ helped to slightly bring down their COVID-19 numbers, he said. He said the infection, recovery and death rates went down.
“If we can sacrifice for two weeks to bring down our figures, then we'll have a merry Christmas,” Leachon said.
He cited the “miraculous” gains made by Cebu, formerly a hot spot, where the positivity rate went down from 33 percent to 7 percent after a month-long ECQ.
Meanwhile, the positive rate in Metro Manila remains at 17 percent, which he says is high.
Malacañang on Saturday announced that, except for Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces, most parts of the Philippines would remain under relaxed community quarantine levels until the end of the month—even as the number of COVID-19 infections in the country continued to increase.