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Can Curfews, Local Lockdowns Stop 'Serious' COVID Surge in Metro Manila?

OCTA Research has new projections.
Mar 18, 2021
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Local lockdowns in at least two cities in Metro Manila and a region-wide curfew could halve the rise in COVID-19 infections by the end of March, OCTA Research Group said, describing the outbreak in the capital region of 12 million people as "serious."

By the end of the month, there could be 4,000 new cases per day compared to 7,500 if new restrictions were not put in place. The OCTA projection cited lockdowns in Pasay and Navotas. The city of Manila had also placed several barangays under lockdown.

The Pasay and Navotas lockdowns reduced the R to 1.8 from 2, OCTA said. This indicator refers to the number of people a COVID-positive person can infect. By April the projected daily cases in Metro Manila would be down to 6,000 from 16,000.

The Philippines reported its highest single-day increase on Aug. 10, 2020 with 6,958 new cases. It included the entire country.

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"Together, with reduced mobility, cufews, stricter implementation of health protocols and city ordinances, this can help reduce the reproduction number in NCR to more manageable levels," OCTA Research said.

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said earlier this week that the surge in COVID cases could surpass the 2020 peak unless infections are capped. However, he said tighter quarantines for the entire Metro Manila were unnecessary for now as local lockdowns appeared to be working.

Fast-rising cases in mid-2020 forced a rollback to MECQ, the second lowest quarantine, for Metro Manila. It was later loosed by one notch, to GCQ, the second lowest, and has stayed there since September.

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For two weeks until the end of March, a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be observed in Metro Manila. Only those 18 to 65 years old will be allowed to go out of the house.

The Philippines also shut its borders to foreigners and non-OFWs until April 20.

Authorities had blamed the surge on loose compliance with health protocols and the arrival of highly contagious virus variants from Brazil, South Africa and the UK.

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The reproduction rate in Metro Manila is at 1.96, the highest May 2020, OCTA said. This means a COVID patient can infect up to two people.

On March 16, the region reported 2,231 cases, up 75% from the previous week.

The attack rate, or the total number of cases per population, is at 15.9 for every 100,000.

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