WHO supports granular lockdowns but Philippines has to have better data, official says

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the government’s decision to impose granular lockdowns to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 but the Philippines has to have better validated data, an official said on Tuesday.

“If we are now considering moving from a very stringent quarantine to more relaxed quarantine to very granular lockdowns, which is something the WHO advocates and supports, the critically important element is that those granular lockdowns, those actions need to be influenced by very accurate, very up to date data, because otherwise we could end up in a situation that the granular lockdowns do not give us the results that we need,” WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in an interview on CNN.

“It is critically important that we have validated up to date information on patient numbers, testing, positivity rates, on severity of disease, on the clusters of cases. Where are the clusters? Where do you do the granular lockdowns? Because oftentimes we hear of granular lockdowns happening where people are residing without investigation where transmissions are happening,” he added.

“It is important to focus on where transmission is happening,” he added, saying that this data could be “generated through strong contact tracing” which is the weakest link in the Philippine response.

Malacanang announced on Monday that Metro Manila will be under general community quarantine (GCQ) from September 8 to 30, but granular lockdowns will be pilot tested beginning Wednesday, September 8.

Roque said details regarding the granular lockdowns will be issued on Tuesday.

The National Capital Region was previously placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) — the strictest quarantine classification — from August 6 to 20 amid the surge of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.

The quarantine classification has been downgraded to modified ECQ (MECQ) which will be in effect until September 7. MECQ partially allows non-essential services to operate.

‘Significant progress’

Abeyasinghe said the Philippines has achieved “significant progress” in its battle against COVID-19, noting the addition of more ICU beds and the rollout of the vaccination program.

However he said the key to combatting the highly transmissible Delta variant, which is becoming the dominant variant of the coronavirus globally, is to inoculate as many people as possible and to expand the capacities of healthcare facilities.

He also said access to oxygen must be ensured.

Abeyasinghe also said the country can increase further its testing capacity.

The Philippines on Monday logged 22,415 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the country’s total caseload to 2,103,331.

Monday’s figures were the highest since the pandemic began.

A total of 159,633 cases are active.

Meanwhile, 1,909,361 have recovered while 34,337 died. –KG, GMA News

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