For 'granular' lockdown to work, Philippines needs accurate COVID-19 data — WHO

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
For 'granular' lockdown to work, Philippines needs accurate COVID-19 data — WHO
Individuals line up for Pfizer vaccine at the bleachers of the Marikina Sports Center which was turned into a vaccination hub on Sept. 3, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Shifting from hard to "granular" COVID-19 lockdowns could work but only if supported by accurate data, the World Health Organization stressed on Tuesday. 

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO's representative to the country, welcomed the government's move starting with the National Capital Region as pilot area on September 8. 

It would see industries reopening and some curbs relaxed in Metro Manila, despite the Philippines continuing to tally record-high new coronavirus cases per day. 

He said they support granular lockdowns than stringent quarantines, but a "critically important" element is for it to be paired with updated information. 

"Because otherwise, we could end up in a situation that the granular lockdowns don't give us the results we need," the WHO's representative to the country told CNN Philippines' "The Source."

Abeyasinghe said this would mean having up to date details on patient number, testing positivity rates, as well as severity of disease among COVID-19 patients and clustering of cases. 

He added contact tracing efforts need to be ramped up, too, as he remarked it remains "the weakest link in the Philippine response" to the health crisis. 

"It's important to have focus on where the transmission is happening," Abeyasinghe continued. "For us to do effective granular lockdowns, it needs to be based on very good epidemiological data so we can maximize its impact."

Monday's coronavirus bulletin by the Department of Health showed COVID-19 screening laboratories ran 73,264 tests. 

That number in the last month has never gone up beyond 74,000 amid the country facing a new uptick in infections. 

But despite the country now having 275 testing facilities, Abeyasinghe said its actual utilization is different.

"We're not even using them at 50%," he said. "We can do much more than the 70,000...testing needs to be used as part of the overall strategy."

The Duterte administration, despite announcing the downgrading of quarantine status in Metro Manila, has yet to announce official guidelines.





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