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MANILA, Aug 10 (Mabuhay) —  The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) currently in effect in the National Capital Region (NCR) may be extended due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

However this will still be discussed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

“Nandiyan lagi ‘yung posibilidad because based on our projections, kahit magkaroon tayo ng dalawang linggong ECQ, patuloy pong tataas ang mga kaso natin,” she said.

“Ang atin po lang objective for this ECQ is for us to prepare the system para mas ma-manage natin itong ganitong klaseng sitwasyon,” Vergeire added.

“As to the extension of ECQ, of course, ito po ay pag-uusapan sa IATF (this will be discussed by the IATF),” she said.

Metro Manila was placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20 in light of the threat posed by the Delta coronavirus variant.

Vergeire added that a lockdown is not the only recourse.

“But based on what’s happening right now at ang patuloy na pagtaas ng kaso, hindi lang po ang lockdown ang dapat asahan natin and government is gearing towards that,” she said.

Vergeire explained that other measures need to be done too.

“Kailangan nating paigtingin ‘yung iba pa nating ginagawa sa response so that economically hindi rin tayo masyadong ma-burden,” she said.

“So pag-uusapan ho lahat ‘yan sa IATF (So all of these will be discussed by the IATF),” Vergeire said.

Reproduction rate, projections

The OCTA Research group on Sunday said the reproduction rate, or the rate at which an infected individual can pass on the virus to others, in NCR went up to 1.80 from 1.56 a week ago.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in NCR breached 2,800 on Saturday, “the highest number since May 2, when the NCR was under MECQ [modified enhanced community quarantine],” the group said.

“The rapid growth rate of cases in the NCR strongly suggests the possibility that the surge is driven by the Delta variant, and the steady increase in the reproduction number may be due to the replacement of the Delta variant over the previous dominant variants (i.e. Alpha and Beta),” the OCTA Resarch group said.

Vergeire on Monday said there were 146 local cases of the Delta variant in Metro Manila.

She also said the country is already seeing the impact of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant with the continued surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Even with ECQ, active cases in Metro Manila may still reach around 18,000 by the end of September, Vergeire said.

The Philippines reported 8,900 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, driving up the total number of cases to 1,667,714.

Of this number, 78,480 are active; 1,560,106 recovered; and 29,128 died.  (MNS)

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