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Duque wants MECQ extended after April 30

By Tanya Lara Published Apr 26, 2021 2:57 pm

Don’t make plans to go out of NCR Plus just yet.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III wants an extension of MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal beyond April 30.

“Kung titingnan natin ang datos, tingin ko kinakailangan ipagpatuloy ang MECQ for another week or two dahil nga yung ating health systems capacity ay hindi masyadong nagiimprove pa sa ngayon,” Duque said on told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

He added that hospital ICUs remain in critical status. “Patuloy pa rin na ilang siyudad ang may critical risk classification ang kanilang ICU capacity. Although may senyales na bumababa ang mga kaso sa Kamaynilaan, bumabagal ang bagong cases, may kataasan pa rin ang daily average cases natin for the last two weeks.”

According to OCTA Research Group yesterday, NCR Plus is showing a “clear downward trajectory” of COVID infections and pegged the reproduction of cases at 0.93.

Monitoring NCR Plus from April 18 to 24, the group said infections have slowed down. “The average number of new COVID-19 cases reported per day in the NCR was 3,841 over the past week, with a one week growth rate of -20 percent,” Octa said in its latest report. “The current average is also 30 percent lower than the average of 5,552 during the peak of the surge three weeks ago.”

“Three weeks ago, the positivity rate was as high as 25 percent. Hospital bed occupancy in the NCR decreased to 61 percent while ICU bed occupancy also decreased to 71 percent,” the report said. “Solid downward trends (with at least two consecutive weeks of negative one-week growth rate) were observed in Pasay, Manila, Navotas, Muntinlupa and Caloocan. Negative growth rates were also observed in Cavite, Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan,” it said.

A community pantry set up by the nuns of St. Scholastica in Manila.  Photo by Kriz-John Rosales

The government put NCR Plus under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 4, then extended it to April 11. From April 12 to 30, MECQ is in effect.

Last week, however, PGH (Philippine General Hospital) Spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said they barely felt the effects of the ECQ. The moment someone vacates the ICU, there’s one waiting in the wings. The emergency rooms, I was told, has about 25 beds for COVID, sometimes 30 patients are there. There are a lot of patients waiting to be transferred to PGH but we couldn’t admit them because a lot of them are also severe to critical. We now have only a few available beds for the moderate cases now.”

It was the same situation for private hospitals. Also on CNN Philippines last week, Dr. Jose Rene de Grano, president of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPI), said, “We were expecting after ECQ talagang luluwag. Halos tuloy-tuloy pa rin. Nung mag MECQ parang na negate yung positive effects ng ECQ. Ganun pa rin ang results. Other hospitals have reported bumalik pa rin sa dati, na talagang na-overwhelm ulit. Napupuno na rin ang mga emergency rooms.”

According to Duque, the quarantine status in NCR Plus and other areas will be discussed tomorrow, April 27. The Inter-Agency Task Force will make its recommendation to Malacañang Palace.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said today the decision will take into account the “economic health of the nation.”

The Philippines is nearing one million COVID cases at 997,523 and 16,783 deaths. Yesterday, 8,162 new cases were reported.