Extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces beyond April 4 can further reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), an official of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 said on Wednesday.
“If you ask me, of course, on the health side, it would be good to extend it, in fact, by more than one week until the reproduction number slows down,” NTF medical adviser Dr. Teddy Herbosa said partly in Filipino in an interview at the Laging Handa press briefing.
Herbosa, however, said the imposed lockdown must still be accompanied by continuous pandemic response, such as testing, isolation, and contact tracing.
“Extending the EQC will reduce the disease transmission among people but it has to be accompanied by other public health measures,” he said. “We doctors, of course, want a stop to the epidemic or the spread of this contagious disease of Covid-19.”
Herbosa, however, acknowledged that the lockdown imposed last year had greatly affected the economy and restricted movement.
He noted that extending the ECQ or not would be a tough call for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
The IATF’s technical experts on health and epidemic, alongside experts on economics and social services, are expected to tackle any possible extension of the ECQ in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus bubble.
“It would be a difficult decision and I do hope they could be helped and come up with a good solution that would balance all these factors,” Herbosa said partly in Filipino.
Various hospitals in Metro Manila and other quarantine facilities managed by local government units (LGUs) have already reached their full-bed capacity for Covid-19.
He warned that the already crowded hospitals might no longer be able to handle another surge should the lockdown be lifted.
“Hospitals are fully loaded. If we open up, the cases might spike, and local hospitals and quarantine facilities might not be able to adapt,” Herbosa said.Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal are under a week-long ECQ until April 4. SOVEREIGNPH