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IATF's Salvana: ECQ reco made ‘with eyes wide open on drastic economic implications’

By Brooke Villanueva Published Jul 30, 2021 4:10 pm

A member of the government’s COVID-19 advisory group said that the decision to heighten quarantine measures in the National Capital Region “is guided by science and seeks to balance health and economy.”

Palace spokesman Harry Roque announced today, July 30, that NCR will be put under “general community quarantine subject to heightened and additional restrictions” starting tomorrow until August. 6. Afterwards, an enhanced community quarantine in NCR will be imposed from August 6 to 20. Roque said the decision is aimed to stem a feared rise of COVID-19 infections due to the entry of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the decision considered factors such as the daily attack rate, healthcare utilization rates in ICUs and hospitals, rate of increase, presence of variants, vaccination coverage, economic risks, and implementation.

“Based on these parameters, the metrics for Metro Manila are still consistent for GCQ with heightened restrictions (HR). We have enough healthcare capacity, ICU beds, and the case rates are still manageable,” he wrote in a Facebook post, adding that it led to IATF’s approved initial GCQ with HR for NCR from August 1 to 15. 

But since appeals by local government units and mayors are always put into consideration, “having seen some clusters on the ground wanted to escalate,” the team went on to study the latest numbers of the Delta variant as well as fresh genome data yesterday, July 29.

“Based on these models, the downstream effect of Delta was such that some sort of lockdown was inevitable if we wished to avoid the fates of Malaysia and Indonesia. However, the one mitigating factor here will be if we vaccinate like crazy,” he explained. 

“With this in mind, the IATF made the decision to lock down in order to give time to increase vaccination and delay the spread of Delta,” said Salvana, who assured that the decision was done “with eyes wide open on the drastic economic implications.”

Apart from the fact that cases and healthcare capacity are still “manageable,” the IATF made sure that the public can prepare for the circumstances that may come with the impending ECQ. “This is an unprecedented escalation because it is not within our usual metrics,” he said. “This is a preemptive response to Delta and is premised on an accelerated vaccination program to get as many people vaccinated as possible.” 

Salvana concluded his post by stressing the importance of preparation and vaccination, keeping “fluid” conditions and changes in line with the country’s COVID-19 situation in mind. “Let’s not waste this opportunity. If you know anyone who is not yet vaccinated, please ask them to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

(Article thumbnail and banner photo: Eastern Police District police conduct a checkpoint in Marikina today August 6, 2021. The Philippine STAR/Boy Santos)