Too early to say if ECQ lifted by May 15 — DoH


The Department of Health said yesterday that it is too early to say if the enhanced community quarantine in certain areas will be eased by May 15.

“It’s very difficult to make any predictions as of now because we still have nine days,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Hopefully, let’s cross our fingers that no local surges will happen. But we can tell you that the data analytics group will always give us the report because they do the analysis on a very regular basis and feed into the IATF (Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) decision-making process,” he added.

The National Capital Region is among areas currently under ECQ. Majority of coronavirus disease cases in the country were detected in Metro Manila, with 6,596 cases, based on the DoH COVID-19 tracker.

A total of 10,004 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the Philippines as of posting time, including 1,508 recoveries and 658 deaths.

Duque said that they continue to increase the health system’s capacity as there are now indications that the country is starting to flatten the COVID-19 curve, citing the observation of epidemiologist Dr. John Wong who is working with the IATF sub-technical working group on data analytics.

“While the curve has started to flatten, we grab that opportunity to ramp up, to raise the health system’s capacity to be able to deal with the threat,” said Duque.

Wong recently said that the “doubling time” — or the duration in days for cases or deaths to double — in the number of cases and deaths has slowed down, saying that “from doubling every less than three days, now it is doubling around four days.”

The epidemiologist noted that even if the flattening of the curve is now being observed, it does not signify that the COVID-19 outbreak will end anytime soon, adding that mitigation measures should be properly observed to avoid resurgence of cases.

“So, this is the second wave, kasi the first wave was in January. After this flattening of the curve and then when we relax the ECQ, we will see another surge of cases, maybe a third wave,” he said.

“To prevent that third wave, we have to observe all the mitigation measures, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and frequent cleaning,” he added.

Wong noted that the pandemic will only stop when a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.

“We still cannot say that we’ve won the battle against COVID-19 until we have a vaccine,” he said.

This was also echoed by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, saying that the public should be prepared.

“Dahil ang COVID-19 ay isang unseen killer at wala pa tayong gamot o bakuna dito, kinakailangan natin maging alisto at isagawa lagi ang mga health protocols ,” she said.

“Let us be mindful of each other and remember that we are all working together to beat this virus. The way we choose to behave out in public in the coming weeks could save lives,” she added. (Analou de Vera)

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Written by Tempo Desk

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