By JHON ALDRIN CASINAS
OCTA Research Group recommended yesterday recommended the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and four nearby provinces for one more week.
In its latest monitoring report, the independent research group said that the ECQ in NCR+ was working as it slowed down the surge of COVID-19 cases.
“In fact, the reproduction number has gone down to 1.23, and for the first time in three weeks, the NCR is experiencing negative growth in new daily cases,” OCTA said. “Be that as it may, the reproduction number for the NCR remains above one, meaning that significant viral transmissions continue,” it added.
The group pointed out that the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases in NCR+ remains very high at around 5,000 cases per day.
Researchers have also expressed concern over the hospital capacity in the region and in the bubble, which remains at critical capacity, with some hospitals have already reached their full occupancy.
With these in consideration, OCTA suggested to extend the ECQ for another week in NCR+ “to continue to slow down the surge, decongest our hospitals, and relieve the pressure on our healthcare workers.”
“OCTA believes that opening up the NCR+ prematurely would be a significant risk as it could accelerate the surge again,” it said. “However, if ECQ extension cannot be considered for socioeconomic reasons, we are suggesting a minimum of two weeks of MECQ.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Saturday that the two-week ECQ in NCR+ may be insufficient to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases.
“Almost two weeks na tayo pero ‘di pa natin ganap na nararamdaman ‘yung epekto nito so probably another week will be enough,’’ DILG officer-in-charge (OIC) Bernardo Florece Jr. said in an interview over TeleRadyo yesterday.
“Pero at the end of the day, of course ang nagde-debate diyan members ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) at inaaral talaga kung ano ang rekomendasyon pero babase talaga sa available data sa science. ‘Yun ang pinagbabasehan ng IATF,’’ he added. (With a report from Chito Chavez)