The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed over Luzon, along with other interventions, has indeed slowed down the spread of COVID-19 virus, based on “the best available data”, according to a team specially formed by the University of the Philippines to help government make informed interventions against the pandemic.
Summarizing a five-page policy note by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, the UP Resilience Institute (UPRI) said: “What took three days for the total number of cases to double now takes six days.” [Read the policy note here.]
It added that, compared to Singapore and South Korea, COVID-19 related deaths in the country has not increased significantly. This means that the ECQ has been “relatively successful” given the estimated case fatality rate of 5.38 percent and a reproduction number of 0.6398, which is lower than 1.
“After April 30, the best thing to do is to implement a graduated activation of ECQ. Provinces and lower-level LGUs should decide whether to extend, lift, or relax community quarantine based on how far they are to an estimated outbreak threshold,” according to the summary.
The team’s policy note added that model estimates would improve much if nationwide barangay-level data on COVID-19 were made available daily, preferably through an automated LGU data collecting system.
The team volunteered to help LGUs track and monitor their data through its endcov.ph dashboard.
The web portal was launched shortly after the creation of the team on March 19, 2020.
It features a highly detailed map of the general locations and numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitals, quarantine checkpoints, and other usable data inputted by UPRI staff. The map doubles as a color-coded “heat map” showing which localized areas have the most and the least number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The portal has pages for COVID-19-related policies, advisories, resources, symptoms of the disease, charts, statistical data, and profiles of patients investigated, tested, admitted, and treated in hospitals, including those who have died or recovered.
The UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team is composed of UP Executive Vice President and former Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa and UPRI Executive Director Alfredo Mahar Lagmay as team leaders; with UPRI directors and experts on public health, medicine, the arts and sciences, engineering, education, governance, and related fields as members.
They are tasked with design and implementation of research and dissemination of findings relevant to the pandemic.
The response team made two other points, as summarized by UPRI:
• Quantifying the effectiveness of ECQ is highly dependent on discovering new cases. South Korea managed the spread of the virus and lowered their reproduction number through consistent increased testing and contact tracing.
• A region-wide ECQ may not be sustainable over the long run and can unnecessarily paralyze local economies.