DOH: COVID-19 transmission in Metro Manila not yet slowing down
Commuters queue for free bus rides from Philcoa to Cubao in Quezon City on March 30, 2021 due to limited public transportation amid the enhanced community quarantine.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

DOH: COVID-19 transmission in Metro Manila not yet slowing down

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - April 5, 2021 - 4:36pm

MANILA, Philippines — The transmission of COVID-19 in outbreak epicenter Metro Manila has not slowed down yet, the Department of Health said Monday as it stressed that it is “too early” to determine if the implementation of stricter measures is successful in stemming the surge in infections.

“No, the virus spread has not slowed down yet,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing.

Vergeire said it will take about two weeks after the end of the enhanced community quarantine to see the effects of more stringent interventions. Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna will remain under ECQ for another week, or until April 11.

“We won’t see the effect of ECQ until about two weeks from the time that we have ended the ECQ,” she said in Filipino.

The health official was reacting to the latest monitoring report of OCTA Research Group, which said that “it is clear that the lockdown has been effective in slowing down the increase in the number of new cases in the National Capital Region.”

The independent research group said the reproduction number—or the number of people that one COVID-19 positive case can infect—decreased to 1.61 from 1.88 in the capital region. 

‘Artificial’ decline

Vergeire called the decrease in cases “artificial” because dozens of testing laboratories stopped operations during the Holy Week. She asked testing hubs to remain open as they play an important role in the government’s COVID-19 response.

“Let’s not think that the transmission of cases is slowing down because of the artificial decline,” she said in Filipino.

The DOH reported 8,355 additional COVID-19 infections Monday, taking the total caseload to 803,398. Of these, 143,726 are active cases.

Vergeire also said the effects of ECQ on healthcare utilization may be seen in three to four weeks.

The spike in cases has been swamping hospitals, with reports of people looking for a facility that can treat their loved ones who contracted COVID-19. There were also reports of patients dying outside emergency rooms of hospitals.

Poor compliance with health protocols and circulation of more contagious variants of the virus have been blamed for the alarming increase in cases.

The disease has claimed the lives of at least 13,435 people in the Philippines.

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