Covid-19 outbreak in PH: A month after Luzon-wide quarantine

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

April 19, 2020, 11:46 am

MANILA – More than a month since Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Philippines has seemingly started to "flatten the curve".

"We've started to see the flattening (of the curve), the doubling rate has decreased, even our number of people who recovered have already surpassed the number of our patients dying from Covid-19," National Task Force on Covid-19 Medical Adviser and University of the Philippines Executive Vice President Dr. Ted Herbosa said in a recent CNN Philippines interview.

Herbosa noted that the disease's reproduction number has decrease to 0.65 from the previously reported 1.5 rate when ECQ was at its initial stage.

The health expert attributed the decrease to the community quarantine as well as other public health measures and social distancing followed by the public.

Manila's testing capacity has been strengthened with more 17 licensed laboratories able to conduct Real Time RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) for Covid-19. As of April 15, about 49,613 individuals have been tested, according to DOH's Covid-19 tracker.

Meanwhile, there are 3,191 total dedicated beds for Covid-19 in hospitals, at least 1,474 mechanical ventilators, and 12,413 beds in identified community quarantine facilities across the country as of April 12.

The government is also setting up community quarantine and treatment centers. The Philsports Arena in Pasig City including the Filinvest Tent in Muntinlupa City will be converted as patient care centers (PCCs), while construction of PCCs at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum Halls, Ninoy Aquino Stadium at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, and the World Trade Center (WTC) have been completed.

Based on the latest situational report of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Philippines, 10 tons of raw materials have also arrived in Manila for local manufacturing of high quality personal protective equipment (PPE).

Coronavirus cases

As of April 18, a total of 516 people has recovered from the disease, completely surpassing the death toll at 397.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines now stands at 6,087 and of this figure, 3,191 are currently admitted, according to the DOH Covid-19 tracker.

In the past 24 hours, 209 new cases were reported, relatively lower than the previous number 218. The highest daily increase recorded was on March 31 at 538.

On Wednesday, the recoveries surpassed that of deaths. The number of successfully treated patients continued to rise since then.

Community quarantine

The Philippines registered its first localized transmission of Covid-19 on March 7. At that time, a couple with no travel history were logged as the 5th and 6th Covid-19 cases and the first Filipino nationals to be diagnosed of the disease inside the country.

The Philippines was placed under a state of public health emergency on March 8.

After the Department of Health raised Code Red Sub-level 2 due to sustained community transmission on March 12, the government deemed necessary the implementation of a region-wide "community quarantine" in Metro Manila.

On March 15, the government suspended all land, domestic air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila.

But just a day after initial implementation, President Rodrigo Duterte expanded the order and imposed ECQ in the entire Luzon. This was supposed to end on April 12 but was extended until the end of the month. (PNA)