Specialist says new normal is needed after enhanced community quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — There seems to be a flattening of the coronavirus curve in the country, but people should expect a new normal beyond the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), an infectious diseases specialist said.

Dr. Edsel Salvana said the lockdown that began on March 17 helped contain the spread of COVID-19.

“If you have a virus that’s being mitigated kasi like COVID, ang doubling time mo, the total number of cumulative cases will double every three days. Ngayon ang doubling time natin, more than 14 days. That means the ECQ has actually been successful in flattening the curve,” Salvana said.

Salvana said an infected person would exhbit coronavirus symptoms in two weeks. This means, infections during the latter part of the quarantine period will show up within the next 14 days after the quarantine is lifted.

“So even if you lift the ECQ, you won’t know if there’s a new surge until two weeks after the lifting. So it really has to be very, very cautious,” he said.

“Hindi pwedeng back to normal tayo kasi [We can't say we're back to normal because] in the first place, there’s not enough immunity. Yung tinatawag na [What we call] herd immunity in the community. So if the virus is still there and you relax all the social distancing measures, it can surge again,” he said

‘New normal’

Salvana said it is possible to slowly reopen the economy while mitigating the virus.

He added, however, that physical distancing should be strictly observed, entertainment centers should remain closed, while gatherings of more than ten people should not be allowed.

The government may assess which businesses may reopen.

“The essential services, food, manufacting, you can actually weigh the risk of those so people can eat, people can be employed,” Salvana said.

“The problem with having indefinite ECQ is mamatay talaga ang mahihirap na walang income [the poor without any income will die]. And the government cannot indefinitely support them," he added.