DOH official: NCR restrictions may be eased in October

DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Saturday, September 26, that the National Capital Region (NCR) has a good chance of having its quarantine level eased next month due to the prolonged case doubling time.

According to Vergeire, the NCR, which is home to at least 12 million people, has shown improvement when it comes to critical care utilization, mortality, and case doubling time.

“So alam po natin na ang Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) kapag sila ay nagdedesisyon ukol dito sa mga easing up of community quarantine measures, marami po tayong ginagamit na mga indicators, hindi lang po talaga iyong numero ng mga kaso sa isang lugar,” she said.

(The IATF uses a number of indicators in deciding whether to ease up community quarantine measures or not; not just the number of cases in an area.)

“Tinitingnan din po natin iyong ating health system capacity, tinitingnan din po iyong mga indicators katulad ng case doubling time, mortality doubling time (We also look at our health system capacity, case doubling time and mortality doubling time),” she added.

She said Metro Manila’s critical care utilization is already down by 60 percent from 80 to 81 percent last August.

“Ngayon po, ang ating critical care utilization is already down ‘no. Ang ating ICU [intensive care unit] bed utilization is just at 63 percent, and for the ward beds and isolation beds, it is just about 50 to 53 percent,” Vergeire said.

“Kapag tiningnan po natin lahat itong mga indicators na mayroon tayo sa ngayon, nakikita natin maganda po ang indikasyon. Like the critical care utilization, bumaba na po to about 60 percent at nakikita natin na mas nakakaagapay ang ating sistema sa ngayon,” she added.

Vergeire also said that the area’s mortality and case doubling time has already improved for more than 10 days.

“Kapag tiningnan naman po natin iyong atin pong ma case doubling time, mortality doubling time, it is more than 10 days already and maganda rin pong indikasyon iyan dahil humahaba na po iyong panahon para magdoble ang mga bagong kaso dito sa ating Metro Manila,” she said.

But Vergeire said that some areas in Metro Manila are still prone to high Covid-19 transmissions.

“Ang transmission rate is less than one, it’s a good indication also. Pero kailangan din po nating tingnan iyong isang banda, na mayroon pa rin hong mga lugar na specific dito sa Metro Manila, na talagang mayroon po tayong clustering of cases at mayroon pa rin hong observed na pagtaas ng mga kaso,” she said.

“So, kailangan lang pong balansehin, bagama’t mayroon po tayong mga magagandang indikasyon dito po sa mga ginagamit natin na pamantayan para masabi kong mag-i-ease ng quarantine, kailangan din nating tingnan iyong mga clustering of cases sa iba’t ibang lugar,” she added.

Vergeire said the final verdict will still lie in the hands of the IATF members.

“So, this has to be balanced kapag nagdesisyon po at ito naman ay gagawin ng Inter-Agency Task Force at magbibigay po sila ng rekomendasyon bago po dumating iyang October 1 na iyan,” she said.

The NCR has been placed under general community quarantine until September 30, 2020. The Department of Health said that the country has a total of 301,256 cases of Covid-19, as of September 26, 2020. (SunStar Philippines)


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