Health reform advocate warns: More lives may be lost with eased quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — A health reform advocate warned Friday that the government's decision to ease Metro Manila's community quarantine classification after a two-week lockdown could mean lost gains and more risks from the Delta variant that is driving up COVID-19 cases in the country.

Dr. Tony Leachon, also a former government coronavirus task force adviser, told CNN Philippines' The Source that it is "counterintuitive" to shift to a more relaxed quarantine status while the country is still hitting over 14,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. He was referring to the decision to ease restrictions in Metro Manila from the strictest enhanced community quarantine to a more relaxed modified enhanced community quarantine from Aug. 21 to 31.

"We might be suffering the consequences of that wrong decision, because the fundamental principle in slowing down the virus is basically a tighter quarantine," Leachon said Friday.

"Nakakatakot siya na ma-open mo sa MECQ and lose lives and maoverwhelm yung healthcare system. Natatakot ako doon kasi highly transmissible yung virus eh," he added

[Translation: It's worrisome to ease to MECQ, lose lives and overwhelm the healthcare system. I'm afraid of that because the virus is highly transmissible.]

He said the ECQ should have been extended by another two weeks. He said if cash aid is the problem, it would have been easy to adjust the budget.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to place Metro Manila under MECQ until the end of the month, while Bataan will be under MECQ starting Aug. 23.

Under MECQ, indoor and al fresco dining and personal care services are still prohibited. Religious gatherings shall also remain strictly virtual.

READ: NCR, Laguna shift to MECQ from Aug. 21 to 31 

OCTA Research Group said the fruits of the two-week ECQ could still be continued, but the ongoing spikes in Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and parts of Batangas must be immediately addressed. Testing must also be increased to up to 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day.

RELATED: MECQ in Metro Manila could work, but tame spikes in nearby provinces – OCTA