'We're not out of the woods yet,' OCTA says in calling for MECQ extension

'We're not out of the woods yet,' OCTA says in calling for MECQ extension
Medical frontliners attend to patients on Tuesday midnight, April 27, 2021 at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon CIty which set up additional tents near the emergency room to attend to the influx of COVID-19 patients.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — OCTA Research on Wednesday backed an extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in 'NCR Plus' by May, saying another week or two could stabilize the number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the country.

In a Laging Handa briefing, OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye said stretching the MECQ could give longer time to open more quarantine facilities, hire additional health workers and expand hospital capacity.

"That's why we're asking for additional week or more for MECQ, to give time for national and local governments to implement interventions," he said, partly in Filipino. "It's very clear that the sad experience we have with this terrible surge is the need for expanded testing, tracing and isolation."

Rye said at least 2,000 additional infections in Metro Manila could be manageable based on their studies. At present, the capital region is still averaging 3,500 but this has already decreased from 5,500 previously.

He added that the panel of experts understands the need to also allow more workers get back on their jobs in balancing health and the economy. OCTA said that if government will permit more establishments to resume, it should be on those that will not add more risk to the virus' transmission.

"We saw a slight decrease this week but we're not out of the woods yet," Rye said. "This can be reversed if we are not careful, and if cases surge again, it will be more difficult to deal with as our hospitals are still full."

Earlier today, Metro Manila mayors agreed to relax further curfew hours in the capital region, or between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. starting May 1. This, however, can still be changed depending on President Rodrigo Duterte's final decision, which the Palace said could by announced tonight. 

Local chief executives also deferred to the President on the quarantine status of Metro Manila. It was returned to ECQ in late March, and shifted to MECQ by mid-April.

Prof. Guido David, another OCTA fellow, said the reproduction rate in Metro Manila is now at 0.85 from more than 2 in recent weeks. This refers to how many persons a COVID-19 positive individual can infect. 

The positivity rate in NCR has also gone down to 18%, he said. Still, hospitals here could see easing in its occupancy when daily cases are reduced to less than 2,800.

Data from the Department of Health as of April 26 showed bed occupancy in Metro Manila at 61.9%, or 6,009 beds occupied out of 9,701 in total. ICU bed occupancy is also at 69.25%, isolation beds at 59.24% and ward beds at 64.46%.






As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 16, 2022 - 10:25am

Follow this thread for updates on COVID-19 risk levels, safety measures, and data from Metro Manila's local government units.

Photo: The STAR/Michael Varcas

January 16, 2022 - 10:25am

Daily growth rate in the National Capital Region is down to 2% from 3% of the previous day, according to OCTA Research.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David says the capital region could be close to the peak in new cases or the region has reached its limits in testing capacity.

January 13, 2022 - 9:57am

The LRTA says it will implement the "no vaccination, no ride/no entry" policy starting January 17.

Only vaccinated passengers will be allowed to ride the LRT-2 and will be required to show proof of vaccination.

January 12, 2022 - 10:47am

The Department of Transportation has issued an order barring unvaccinated people from using public transportation in Metro Manila while the capital region is under Alert Level 3.

"All concerned attached agencies and sectoral offices of DOTr are directed to ensure that operators of public transportation shall allow access or issue tickets only to ‘fully vaccinated persons’ as evidenced by a physical or digital copies of an LGU (local government unit)-issued vaccine card, or any IATF-prescribed document, with a valid government issued ID with picture and address," it says.

January 6, 2022 - 4:29pm

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says she's in isolation following a recent exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual.

January 5, 2022 - 12:43pm

The government must ensure supply of basic medicines like paracetamol amid reports of people having trouble getting access to them, Akbayan party-list says Wednesda

"A shortage of paracetamol is another bitter pill that must not be swallowed by the public," Dr. RJ Naguit, second nominee of the party-list, says in a release.

The government has played down the reported shortage, saying supplies are adequate according to its monitoring. It said only specific brands of paracetamol are out of stock at pharmacies.

"For the last two years, the people have been swallowing too many bitter pills in the form of strict lockdowns, lack of mass testing, and inadequate ayuda. And after all our sacrifices, what do we get? We are entering the third year of the pandemic with hardly any paracetamol pills to swallow," Naguit says, adding failure to ensure steady stocks of basic medicines would lower confidence in government.

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