Sat. Jul 24th, 2021

By the Staff

MANILA – According to health experts at the University of the Philippines (UP), the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has greatly helped in stemming the tide of the killer virus.

This was the observation made by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team (UPCRT) contained in its latest report.

At the same time, the team cautioned the country’s health care system should be prepared for a “surge” in cases, second wave like in other countries, once the ECQ is lifted.

“The enhanced community quarantine reduced the Reproductive Number…which helped get the hospital care system to deliver services to those in need. We attribute this downward trend mainly to the ECQ,” the UPCRT said.

The UP team has been tracking the number of coronavirus cases in the country since Day 1 of the pandemic until April 17.

The trend in coronavirus cases in the Philippines during the lockdown (Graph from UP report)

The UPCRT said that from April 18 to 21, the number of new cases ranged from 140 to 207.

Based on their latest estimate, the number of coronavirus cases in the country could reach from 9,000 to 44,000 by April 30, the last day of the Luzon-wide lockdown.

“We should prepare early for this expected surge of COVID-19 patients once the quarantine is lifted,” UPCRT said.

In preparation for the lifting of the ECQ, President Rodrigo Duterte called on former health department heads, businessmen and members from the academe for their observations and expert suggestions on the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Cabinet Secretary Carlos Nograles said not one in the said meeting suggested for an immediate lifting of the ECQ rather, a modified community quarantine was among the options being considered by the government.

Nograles added that President Duterte is expected to announce his final decision on the matter on Thursday, 23 April 2020.

A present, the country’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus cases now stood at 6,599, with deaths at 437. Recoveries is a little more than 600.

“We estimate, based on our projections and assuming a scenario with a reproductive rate of 2, that 3 provinces adjacent to NCR, namely, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal, may face a serious shortage of hospital beds for handling severe and critical cases,” the UPCRT said.

“If we are not able to ‘flatten the curve’ or significantly reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in the Philippines through the enhanced community quarantine, the health care system will be overwhelmed way beyond their capacity as clearly seen in the relatively low number of hospital and ICU beds.”

The UPCRT also added that if a scenario where every COVID-19 patient infects at least two other individuals, “around 35,000 additional beds are needed” by the government.

Capability, meantime, of PH’s medical practitioners will also be strained under that scenario as the Philippines only has 3.7 doctors per 10,000 population, which is below the World Health Organization-prescribed ratio of 1 doctor for 1,000 persons.

It is a given that each patient also needs a doctor, a nurse, and a medical technologist or specialist who knows how to use the equipment needed to help them.

A 2017 statistics provided for by the Philippine Health System Review claim that the Philippines has a total of 40,775 doctors, 90,308 nurses, and 13,413 medical technologists.

Majority of the said healthcare workers are based in Metro Manila, where most of the reported positive cases are located.

“Peak-time critical COVID-19 cases alone would require the attention of approximately 21% of our healthcare workers. Note that this is over and above the already heavy regular workload of our health human resource,” the UPCRT said.

And that number is not solid because, according to the DOH some health workers of around 766 have been infected with COVID-19 as of April 17, including 22 deaths.

Of that number, 339 are doctors and 242 are nurses.

The report of the UPCRT are only “expert estimates” that can be used as a guide for pandemic-related planning.

Of this writing, PH have 6,599 cases of the coronavirus, with 437 deaths and 654 recoveries. (ia/

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