One week ECQ not sufficient to really lower COVID-19 cases, DOH official says
A week-long enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces is not enough to continuously lower the cases of coronavirus disease in the country, an official of the Department of Health said on Monday.
In a televised press briefing, DOH Epidemiology Bureau director Aletha de Guzman said health experts are proposing to further extend ECQ by another week to really bring down the COVID-19 cases.
"This one week of ECQ, there will be a slight decrease (of COVID-19 cases) but we can see now that it is possible (for cases) to increase again. We will have more cases after ECQ is lifted," she said.
"That's why one of the proposals of our experts is there may be a need to extend because in extending the ECQ, we can see the continuous drop in cases," De Guzman added.
Based on the COVID-19 monitoring tool FASSSTER, which is being used by the Inter-Agency Task Force Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics, cases of coronavirus in Metro Manila alone could still hit a little over 500,000 if ECQ is implemented for one week.
But if ECQ is to be enforced for two weeks or until April 18, the projected cases could be lower than 500,000.
De Guzman, however, acknowledged there will be "economic implications" in extending ECQ.
She assured that the DOH would not make a hasty decision on the matter.
"We will look into the data next week if there is really a need (to extend the ECQ)," the official added.
Asked on the possibility of extending the ECQ for another week, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in the same press briefing, said as shown in the graph presented by De Guzman, the difference in the projected COVID-19 cases between a week of ECQ and a two-week ECQ was not that much.
He said the government would also consider other factors in coming out with a decision, such as the fatality rate as well as the capability of the government to extend more assistance to the people who would be affected by a prolonged ECQ.
The government has placed Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under ECQ, the strictest quarantine classification, from March 29 to April 4 with the hope to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Under ECQ, many businesses are not allowed to fully operate or are ordered to shutdown to restrict the movement of the people.
As of March 28, the DOH reported 9,475 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases in the country to 721,892, including 105,568 active cases, and 13,170 deaths. Celerina Monte/DMS