The COVID-19 task force has recommended to continue the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that led the President to extend the Luzon-wide lockdown until April 30. They claim that the extension of the ECQ will help in flattening the curve and buying time for the government as it continues to ramp up COVID-19 testing capacity and result turnaround. Currently, we only have 11 accredited testing centers that can yield about 2000 tests daily.
"Di pa natin nakikita ang peak," COVID-19 Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said on a virtual press briefing. "Pag ni-lift mo ang ECQ, sisipa pataas 'yan. Kasi gagalaw lahat. At kung gumalaw, kakalat [ang virus]."
This decision is backed by experts. The University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team has done multiple simulations on the spread of the said virus. Their bioinformatics group, composed mostly of mathematicians from different UP campuses, projected the pandemic's peak in the country by "end of April to June with approximately 140,000 to 550,000 people infected in Metro Manila."
Furthermore, they've conducted more simulations showing how "non-medical interventions" like school lockdowns, implementation of work-from-home schemes, temporary business closures, requirement of face masks, frequent handwashing, physical distancing—all included within the guidelines of the extended ECQ—can help flatten the curve.
They summarized their findings in this graph that displays multiple scenarios that we can experience post April 14, the original date that the ECQ is supposed to be lifted. Here, the red line shows a spike that could manifest if the government decides not to implement any new guidelines after the ECQ. You can see that the red line (a.k.a. the do-nothing scenario) curves above the brown dotted line, which signifies the capacity of our healthcare system in managing the pandemic.
Fortunately, the government was quick to heed the task force's advice and has extended the quarantine. Hence, it is safe to assume that the green line here in the graph is a more probable scenario that we'll face in the coming months.
Their study concludes that by extending the community quarantine, it will help us in the following ways: (1) The ECQ "buys us time to beef up our healthcare system’s capacity" and; (2) This can "[limit] the reach of the disease."
Nograles echoes the sentiment: "Kung lahat po ito ay magagawa natin, sinasabi ng mga eksperto maaari nating ma-push pa lalo ang peak ng COVID-19 dito sa Pilipinas as far as 2021. Sana by that time makapaghanap na ng vaccine ang mundo."
As of writing, the Philippine government has "allocated about P600 billion for COVID-19 response fund," CNN reports. These funds are being distributed to aid sectors and communities that are most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
You can further read UP's report here.
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