MECQ may save more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases, but not enough to flatten the curve

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) — For researchers, reverting back to the two-week modified enhanced community quarantine may be able to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections to more than 50,000.

The University of the Philippines OCTA Research team revealed during the Palace briefing that the government may save over 50,000 to 70,000 cases, significantly reducing its previous projection of 220,000 cases if the metropolis retains its general community quarantine status.

"Over 200,000 ang aming estimate projection in August pero dahil nag-MECQ tayo, bababa between 50,000 and 70,000 cases," said UP professor Ranjit Rye.

[Translation: We have an estimate projection of 200,000 in August but since we returned to the MECQ, cases will be reduced by 50,000 to 70,000 new cases.]

Rye added that the MECQ status will give significant impact on the transmission rate, alongside strengthened testing, tracing and treatment efforts. This should also be matched with intensive cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

Prof. Guido David, another member of the UP OCTA Research team, said Metro Manila currently has a high virus reproduction rate which is the number of people or infected persons that the virus could pass to.

“In NCR, it’s also around 1.5. It went down but it’s actually starting to increase again because we’re seeing huge numbers which is what people are saying we’re getting four to five thousand cases per day,” David told CNN Philippines’ Rico Hizon.

Does this mean that the government will finally be able to flatten the curve? For Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, there is no guarantee to this.

"Itong dalawang linggo na hinihingi ng ating kasama sa mga medical societies is not really to flatten to curve," she said.

[Translation: The two-week timeout requested by our friends from the medical societies is not really to flatten the curve.]

Vergeire clarified that the request is only to allow health workers to take a "breather," and to allow the government to reorganize and re-strategize how to better address the pandemic.

"Hindi po natin masasabi kung mako-contain ang transmission in two weeks, pero pinapaigting natin ang response," she added.

[Translation: We cannot entirely say that we will be able to contain the transmission in two weeks, but we are strengtening our response.]

David emphasized that for Metro Manila, the manageable number of COVID-19 infections per day should be down to 14.

“As long as the virus is here, our economy is suffering,” he said.

Health workers and medical associations on Saturday proposed a two-week enhanced community quarantine status in Mega Manila, citing surging COVID-19 cases and an overwhelmed healthcare system.

To date, the country now has 106,330 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 38,405 active infections. Some 2,104 persons died and 65,821 patients recovered from the virus.