Experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) have concluded that “the ECQ has been working” in managing the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In their “Forecast Report No. 7” dated May 20, the UP experts said the “ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) was successful despite limited testing and contact tracing in the country.”

They cited the decreasing trend of the “reproduction number R,” which “measures the rate of spread of the pandemic.”

The UP report said “the value of R for the entire Philippines has been decreasing, and in a number of provinces around the country, the spread of Covid-19 is either controlled or in a decelerating trend.”

The report said Metro Manila and Cebu City continued to be under very high-risk levels. Batangas, Davao City, and Zamboanga City had significant risk levels that needed close monitoring.

The group recommended the following:

  • restriction of movements in Metro Manila, Cebu City and other high-risk areas, and monitoring of Zamboanga City, Batangas and Davao City;
  • make sure health systems can manage and treat infection;
  • drill down to the barangay level people’s mobility in areas under quarantine using mobile (location) data;
  • expand further the country’s testing capacity, prioritizing the workforce and studying the possibility of using the local trial of group testing protocols;
  • perform aggressive contact tracing by mobilizing other sectors; and
  • put in place mechanism for declaring a province or LGU back in ECQ should there be a threat.

“While we have collectively achieved a lot together, we must not be complacent as we are not yet on the other side of the curve,” the report said.

“The pandemic is ongoing and continues to be a clear and present danger to us all,” it said.

The report was written by Guido David, Ph.D., professor, Institute of Mathematics; Ranjit Singh Rye, MPA, assistant professor, Department of Political Science; and Ma. Patricia Agbulos, MBM; associate, OCTA Research, with contributions from Erwin Alampay, Ph.D., professor, National College of Public Administration and Governance, Emmanuel Lallana, Ph.D., CEO, Ideacorp, Inc., Rodrigo Angelo Ong, MD, professorial lecturer, College of Science; Elmer Soriano, MD, MPA, managing director, Civika Asian Development Academy; and Benjamin Vallejo Jr. Ph.D., professor, College of Science. (Jojo Mangahis)