Medical community reports patient numbers more manageable during first week of MECQ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) — While it is still too early to tell if COVID-19 cases have gone down, the number of patients coming into hospitals is now more manageable compared to weeks before the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine was imposed on Metro Manila and nearby regions.

This was the initial assessment made by some members of the medical community on stricter health protocols bought by MECQ in Metro Manila and four other provinces.

The president of the Philippine College of Physicians, Dr. Mario Panaligan, noted that because of tighter quarantine rules, there is now limited movement.

“So far based sa feedbacks ng meetings, di naman nadagdagan. Ibig sabihin mas nacontrol — wala pang data kasi puro feedbacks pa lang during our meetings. We have felt na mas nakatulong yung MECQ in terms of limiting the mobility ng mga tao but then again we still observed many people roaming around the streets,” said Panaligan.

[Translation: Based on feedbacks and meetings, there have been no additions. This means it is more under control — there has been no data because we have only gotten feedbacks during outr meetings. We have felt that the MECQ has helped in terms of limiting people's monilitym but then we have also observed many people roaming around the streets.]

Dr. Jose Santiago, president of the Philippine Medical Association, said people are now doing online consultations instead of physically going to hospitals in an effort to prevent being exposed to diseases.

He added that if the government decides to revert to general community quarantine, strict health protocols should be still enforced.

“Dapat lang masustain natin from the time we started this MECQ, even when we lower it down to GCQ dapat imaintain yung strict implementation of quarantine protocols. Kung talagang we will be overwhelmed with the number of patients going to the hospital, we should still maintain MECQ rather than back to GCQ,” Santiago says.

[Translation: We have to sustain the momentum from the time we started this MECQ, even when we lower it down to GCQ, we have to maintain the strict implementation of quarantine protocols. If we will truly be overwhelmed with the number of patients going back to the hospital, we should stil maintain MECQ rather than back to GCQ.]

The PSC will have a general assessment on the first week of MECQ on August 11.

Some of the points that they will be tackling are the rate of infection and the record in contact tracing, among others.

National Task Force Vice Chair and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said they are now focusing on building different isolation facilities in each city nationwide.

“Dapat lahat ng probinsya, lahat ng city meron talagang isolation facility. Ito na yung buhay natin hanggang dumating yung vaccine, (baka) 2021 or 2022” says Ano.

[Translation: All provinces and cities should have an isolation facility. This is how things should be untill the vaccine comes, maybe by 2021 or 2022.]

Año also said they were assessing how different local governments are taking care of their COVID-19 positive patients.

“Down to the barangay level, tinitingnan natin ‘yung pag-lockdown nila sa mga lugar. At ‘yung pag-eextract natin ng mga positives na nandito sa mga barangay at sa mga bahay, ilalagay sa COVID facilities,” Ano says.

[Traslation: We are looking at the lockdown processes down to the barangay level. And how positive cases are being extracted from the barangay and houses are being placed in COVID facilities.]

Since the MECQ, Año said there now are more health workers to accommodate the rising number of patients.

Doctors said they were aware that it would be difficult for the economy while Metro Manila is under enhanced community quarantine.

For now, they are hoping that the government will listen to the recommendations they plan to make.

Metro Manila and four other areas were reverted to MECQ from August 4 to 18, as the government heeded the call of frontliners for tighter restrictions to decongest hospitals and improve the government’s strategies against COVID-19.