ECQ extension pushed for one more week

THE group that tracks the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) numbers has proposed to the government to extend the current enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for one more week to relieve the stress and pressure on the hospitals in the country.

In a press conference on Saturday, Octa Research Group said that the impact of the hybrid NCR (National Capital Region) plus intensified lockdowns and the declaration of the ECQ last week would only be felt by at least a week or by April 7.

It added that the decline in the country’s reproduction number, or R-naught, is not enough to translate into a decrease in hospital capacity in the coming weeks or months.

“We recommend that the ECQ be extended by two weeks, as it is not clear and it is crystal to everyone that based on the data, neither the R is going down significantly and the hospital utilization going down significantly,” Professor Ranjit Rye, founder of Octa Research, said.

Rye added that if the reproduction number does not dramatically decrease in the following seven days, then it should be prepared to extend the ECQ to at least another week, while also preparing an “exit strategy” that would transition back to Modified ECQ before moving to a more lenient General Community
Quarantine (GCQ). 

“A step-down approach so we can sustain the gains that we have achieved over the last two weeks,” Rye added. 

The group also suggested to the government to augment healthcare workers from low-risk regions in the country to the areas in the NCR plus area to assist hospitals that are overburdened with Covid-19 infections.