By Ian Gabriel Trinidad

Two health experts are urging the government to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal or the “National Capital Region-Plus Bubble.”

Former Covid-19 task force adviser Dr. Anthony Leachon said the government should extend the ECQ to combat the surge in active cases, the highest in Southeast Asia.

“Extend ECQ—no other way. The government is not doing the needed measures to stop the pandemic,” he tweeted.

Leachon told PressOne.PH that the ECQ should be extended for at least two weeks for the government to “implement a new plan of action.”

The former pandemic response adviser also cited data from the Department of Health showing that the average age of people infected with Covid-19 was 32 years old, while the average age of people dying from the disease was 62 years old.

“This means that essential workers bring the infection unintentionally to their elderly loved ones,” Leachon said.

He stressed the importance of free mass testing, especially for workers. He also recommended wearing face masks at home.

The public health expert suggested that 10 percent to 20 percent of the total population, or around 10.8 million to 21.6 million Filipinos, be tested.

“We are not doing enough testing. It should be 50 to 100 thousand [tests] per day,” Leachon said.

According to NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon, the country has been doing 45,000 Covid-19 tests daily.

Dizon on April 6 rejected mass testing, which he defined as testing the entire population.

77 percent of Covid-19 cases from NCR-Plus

For infectious diseases expert Dr. Benjamin Co, it might not be prudent to relax restrictions in NCR-Plus.

He noted that Metro Manila and surrounding regions accounted for the bulk of Covid-19 cases.

“With close to 180,000 active cases, and the NCR, Calabarzon and Central Luzon accounting for 77 percent of the total cases nationwide, would it be prudent to go into MECQ? E yung ECQ nga ngayon parang MECQ na e,” Co said in a Facebook post.

MECQ or modified ECQ has less restrictions on business operations.

According to data from DOH, out of the 178,351 active Covid-19 cases, 93,429 cases were from Metro Manila, 11,473 were from Cavite, 9,131 were from Bulacan, 8,827 were from Rizal, and 6,246 were from Laguna. This amounted to 129,106 cases, or 72.39 percent of active cases in the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force will meet today to discuss the quarantine classification of NCR-Plus.