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Why a Two-Week ECQ or Lockdown is Ideal, According to DOH

Will the ECQ be extended?
Mar 30, 2021
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Two weeks is the "ideal" timeframe for a lockdown to be effective, the Department of Health said Tuesday, as authorities mull over an extension of the one-week ECQ in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

Aside from the fact that two weeks is the minimum isolation period, it should be taken into account that nine days for Filipinos to decide to see a doctor, get tested and wait for their results. That nine days "could cause a lot of transmission," said DOH Spokesperson Rosario Vergeire.

"It takes about three days for people to decide if they would want to seek consult for their symptoms. It takes another two days for them to get tested and the waiting for the results and then eventually being isolated. It takes nine days in average," she said.

"We have to rememebr the variants are here and therefore if we keep on having this mobiblity of people and the variants are there, the increase will be so much compared to before," she said.

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The ECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan will run for seven days until Easter Sunday. Authorities will look at indicators by the end of this week to decide whether an extension was warranted. Vergeire said the economic toll of the lockdown would also be considered.

One scenario could be a lifting of tight restrictions in certain areas if the blanket ECQ could not be lifted entirely. The ECQ or Enhanced Community Quarantine is the highest under the government's four-step classification system. It requires people to stay at home, except those who are running food and medicine errands or are allowed to work on site.

The one-week-long ECQ would "slow the surge," Vergeire said. On Monday, daily cases breached the 10,000-mark for the first time while active cases are above 100,000.

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"Cases still peak 10 days after lockdown. It would take a longer time to see these effects. What we are looking for right now, is we can slow down the number of cases from spreading, prepare hospitals, strengthen the capacity of local governments," she said.

Department of Health

The virus is spreading faster and is threatening to overwhelm the healthcare system, prompting the declaration of ECQ, the strictest quarantine, The head of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, Dr. Alethea De Guzman said.

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"Ang ECQ, hindi para para i-restrict ang mobility. Dapat samahan ng pag-adhere sa minimum public health standards," she said.

Authorities should also use the ECQ window to trace and isolate suspect cases. "Sayang ang ECQ kung hindi natin ito gagawin."

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Here are more data that justified the ECQ, according to De Guzman:

  • The March 2021 peak in infections is nearly double the March 2020 peak
  • As of March 28, 1.52% of the total active cases are severe to critical
  • As of March 13, every 100 positive cases in Metro Manila infects 149 others
  • The average daily attack rate nationwide is six cases per 100,000 population compared to 2.75 per 100,000 several weeks back
  • In Metro Manila, the attack rate is 27 per 100,000 population
  • In Metro Manila, 38% of COVID patients in the hospital are asymptomatic to mild while 62% are severe to critical
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