The OCTA Research team advised the government to implement a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to arrest the spike of new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country. 

“The stand of the OCTA Research team is that we should consider already a might tighter restriction like in MECQ, like what we did last year,” UP OCTA Research Team’s Dr. Butch Ong said at the Laging Handa briefing.

“Because a two-week MECQ slowed it down last year, and I think it will slow down the increase this year as well. And then we can open up the economy after,” Ong added.

Ong said that the Covid-19 reproduction number is at 1.94 from 2.04, noting that the team still supports their projection of 11,000 new Covid-19 infections daily by the end of March. 

If localized lockdowns will be maintained but with only 0.01 change in the reproduction number, improvements may appear in 10 weeks, which is quite long for healthcare frontliners. 

Big hospitals in Metro Manila for Covid-19 patients have already reached a “high risk” level, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

“It is really an increase that is already challenging our healthcare system,” Ong commented.

“Our NCR plus GCQ bubble, if we maintain it, it could take longer for us to see a sudden decrease. Perhaps now we should consider a tighter restriction,” Ong said, in contrast to Dr. Guido David’s earlier statement that an ECQ or MECQ was not necessary, and that the bubble was “so far” working

Ong explained that the number of new infections significantly lessened within the next four months after the MECQ was implemented last year.

“Perhaps now we might need a time out and we might need an MECQ again for two weeks. This is the stand of the OCTA Research in our discussions for the last few days,” Ong said. Ronald dela Cruz