University of Santo Tomas researchers, associate professor Bernhard Egwolf and Dominican biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, predict the number of infected cases and deaths in the National Capital Region may increase once we shift to general community quarantine on June 1.
Using their epidemiological model, UST CoV-2 Model, Egwolf and Austriaco released projections for the densely populated region under GCQ.
While the number of cases and deaths is predicted to go up, the researchers said this can be “offset with a rigorous tracking, testing, and tracing program that seeks to limit community spread by breaking chains of viral transmission.”
Citing the work of Harvard University scholars, Egwolf and Austriaco said Metro Manila would need a testing capacity of 15,000 tests per day, complemented by 1,800 contact tracers working in call centers.
These combined efforts, they said, would help curb the pandemic, and the capacities must respond to the severity of the pandemic in each area.
The researchers also cited the benefits of the enhanced community quarantine in helping cushion the impact of COVID-19 on NCR.
The ECQ “appears to have limited the impact of the pandemic in Metro Manila by significantly lowering the total number of COVID-19 cases and the total number of deaths.”
Comparing Metro Manila and New York City, which implemented lockdowns five days apart, the Metro Manila lockdown can be considered more effective in terms of saving thousands of lives, with 621 total deaths in NCR compared to the 16,232 deaths in New York City.
The study also found that Makati, Mandaluyong, and Parañaque have been more successful in suppressing the community spread of COVID-19 than Manila and Quezon City. There may be other factors to consider apart from population density alone, they said.
On the issue of testing, the researchers propose the adoption of mobile COVID-19 testing facilities, such as the one being developed by the UST College of Science and Faculty of Engineering, which may help increase the number of tests being conducted in the different LGUs.