Expert group cautious against economic reopening
The OCTA Research Group asked the government to carefully study proposals to resume or expand certain socio-economic activities to minimize further transmission of the coronavirus, according to a report by Philippine Star.
“As the national government decides to further expand economic activity all over the country, the reality of a surge in viral transmissions will not be a question of if, but of when and by how much,” the group said in its report released yesterday.
“It is in this light that we reiterate the urgent need for the national government to scale up the capacities of our healthcare system,” it added.
To deal with future surges, the OCTA Research group – an independent research team composed of academics from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas – said the national government must ensure sufficient testing capacity, protective equipment for healthcare workers and isolation facilities nationwide.
It also recommended the rollout of an effective and aggressive system for contact tracing to find active cases.
While the transmission of the virus is still on a decelerating trend, the group noted an uptick of new cases in some parts of the country.
Metro Manila, which has recorded less number of cases in the past two weeks, remains a hotspot, considering the average of over 900 new cases per day.
Other hotspots include Cavite, Rizal, Batangas, Laguna, Bulacan, Negros Occidental and Iloilo.
“The national government may consider reverting to a stricter quarantine classification or resort to localized lockdowns for the following cities and local government units,” read the report.
It also recommended stricter quarantine classification in Bauan, Batangas; Calbayog, Samar and General Trias, Cavite as it recorded two consecutive weeks of an increasing attack rate.
The group measured the attack rate based on the number of new cases per day per 100,000 population.
The OCTA Research group also recommended scaled up testing in Butuan, General Santos, Cotabato City, Marawi and Cagayan de Oro, citing the high positivity rate or the number of individuals testing positive in relation to the total number of tests conducted.
“We urge the national government and the local government units concerned to further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing and isolation to reverse the increase of transmissions at the community level,” it said.
“Further, the implementation in these areas of more aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls are urgently needed to suppress further viral transmissions,” it added.
The group said the implementation of quarantines must also be augmented with better pandemic surveillance, more effective strategies for physical distancing and compliance with other health protocols.
“We reiterate the need for the national government and the local governments to strictly monitor and enforce compliance with minimum health standards such as physical distancing, the wearing of face masks and face shields and proper hygiene to reverse the increase in transmissions at the community level,” read the report.
“We also urge the private sector to intensify their efforts to complement the initiatives of government in ensuring safety in workplaces, the provision of adequate testing as needed, the ensuring of compliance with minimum health standards in the workplace and implementing effective contact tracing in the workplace,” it added.
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