MANILA, Aug 1 (Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN): The Department of Health (DOH) does not expect the strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Metro Manila where the number of active cases daily could rise to 18,000 and up to 30,000 by September, but it will give time for authorities to prepare to deal with a possible surge.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday said the figures were estimates made by experts from the Autumn Group and a team that employed the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler For Early Detection of Diseases, or FASSSTER system.
“What we’re saying is these lockdowns will help us prepare the system, but it is not going to control the spread. We still need to prepare the system, do what we have to do to prevent the further spread of this Delta variant,” she said during Saturday’s Laging Handa briefing.
“Please take note that these are initial projections and DOH, with our experts, have provided comments and recommendations to further improve on this,” she later told reporters.
Metro Manila will come under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest government lockdown category, from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20 as part of efforts to deal with the threat posed by the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Vergeire said the two groups provided forecasts for different lockdown scenarios, including four weeks of total lockdown.
In these scenarios, there was an increase in the number of cases from 18,000 to 30,000 plus cases. This is if we are under ECQ,” she said.
The FASSSTER team is composed of experts in disease modeling, health informatics, social computing and health systems development, according to the DOH.
Vergeire did not specify the “preparations” needed to deal with the expected rise in cases in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Earlier this week, Dr. Alethea de Guzman, acting director of the Epidemiology Bureau of the DOH, advised local governments to strengthen their prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate strategies and to expand their health-care systems to handle the possible rise in the number of cases due to the more contagious variant.
The Delta variant is one of the factors that the DOH is now considering with regard to the increase in coronavirus infections, though it cannot be certain as not all samples are subjected to genome sequencing to identify the variant responsible, Vergeire said.
Based on data from the DOH, there were 12,108 active cases in NCR on July 30. There were 63,474 active cases in the national capital on March 29 at the start of the second ECQ. - Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN