‘Premature’ to ease Metro Manila’s coronavirus lockdown: UP experts

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2020 08:14 AM | Updated as of Sep 28 2020 08:25 AM

Locals take pictures from a footbridge overlooking the construction of the Manila Bay beach, where artificial sand or crushed dolomite were dumped as part of the government's efforts to rehabilitate and beautify the polluted coastline, in Manila, Sept. 10, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters 

MANILA — It is "premature" to relax the pandemic lockdown of some 12 million people in Metro Manila even as coronavirus infections decrease, a member of an interdisciplinary research group from the University of the Philippines (UP) said Monday. 

For the past 2 weeks, the reproduction rate of the virus in the regions has been below the threshold of "1", indicating it will eventually peter out, said Dr. Guido David of the UP OCTA Research Team. 

However, the occupancy rate of hospitals was still around 60 percent. This figure should ideally be lower to ensure that patients will be admitted to hospitals in case of a surge, he said. 

"Pababa iyong mga kaso. Ibig sabihin n’yan, iyong ginagawa natin ngayon ay tama. Pero once na binago natin iyong mga ginagawa natin, iyong mga interventions and protocols natin, there’s always a risk na magkaroon ng surge," David told TeleRadyo. 

(The cases are going down. That means what we are doing is correct. But once we change that, our interventions and protocols, there’s always a risk if coronavirus surge.)

"Mas maganda sana na mapababa natin iyong kaso bago natin i-take iyong risk... Ngayon, medyo premature pa. Malaki ang mawawala sa atin kung mag-risk tayo ta’s magkaroon ng surge," he added. 

(It will be better for us to bring the cases further down before we take that risk. It's a bit premature for now. We have a lot to lose if we take the risk and this leads to a surge.)

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David, a mathematics professor, also urged the government to focus on a spike in coronavirus cases in Calabarzon and Bulacan, Iloilo and Misamis Oriental provinces. 

The UP OCTA Research Team expects the country will tally 310,000 to 315,000 coronavirus cases by the end of September. 

The health department has confirmed 299,361 COVID-19 cases, of which 61,766 were active as of Sunday.