Early easing of ECQ in Metro could result in 1,700 deaths by June – study

Researchers warned that based on mathematical forecast, a premature easing of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) may result in 1,700 deaths by June.

The research was published by University of the Philippines (UP) Mathematics professor Guido David, UP Political Science professor Ranjit Singh Rye, and Maria Patricia Agbulos, all of whom are fellows of research firm OCTA Research.

"A premature relaxation of the ECQ in the NCR may result in an escalation of 24,000 cases and 1,700 deaths by June 15, 2020," their study said.

Their study used available data from the Department of Health (DOH) and computed the epidemiological reproduction number, or the average of new cases to originate from one case. Using a 7-day average for the reproduction number, the researchers plotted a forecast for June 15.

"Based on our data, if the ECQ is lifted prematurely, we will be faced with another wave or a surge in transmissions that is certain to squander our gains forcing us to make further costly interventions and increasing the total economic cost and the number of lives lost," said the researchers.

The researchers said that data would show "there had been gains due to ECQ."

"The goal is to sustain these gains until such time that it has scaled up and rolled out its programs and its initiatives for mass testing, contact tracing and isolation of infective individuals," said the study.

It added: "We caution the government against the premature relaxation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine without substantial data and without the minimum health safeguards in place in affected areas regardless of the historical number of cases."

As of Saturday, May 9, the number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines have reached 10,610. Of the 147 new cases on Saturday, 123 or 84% were from the National Capital Region.

A mathematician from the Ateneo de Manila University, Professor Felix Muga II, earlier said that the curve has yet to flatten for the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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