Expert: Loosening of curbs in NCR hinges on immunization of vulnerable population


Notwithstanding the rise of Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila, a health expert said the government could still be able to ease quarantine restrictions in the region if most of its vulnerable population could be vaccinated this month.

In an online news briefing, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital Infectious Disease Expert Edsel Salvaña said the vaccination of senior citizens and those with comorbidities in the National Capital Region (NCR) could greatly reduce health-care utilization as well as fatalities in the region.

“We know if we vaccinate [the] majority of the vulnerable population, the number of fatalities will go down by 90 percent,” Salvaña said.

He noted this would give the government the option to consider downgrading curbs in NCR, which will last until August 20, 2021.

“Even if we have so many cases, if only a few [people] will have severe disease, it will not be a burden to our health-care system and we can continue to open [business establishments] so our economy could continue to recover,” Salvaña said.

The government is targeting to vaccinate 12.6 million of the around 30 million population in NCR before the end of the lockdown to achieve “population protection,” where Covid-related deaths and hospitalization would be minimized.

“We are on our way to vaccinating at least 50 percent of our population here in Metro Manila,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed the number of reported cases in NCR last week rose by three folds compared to a month ago.

It noted that the average daily reported 906 Covid-19 cases in the region from last July 19 to 25 rose to 3,260 cases from August 9 to 14, 2021.

The recent surge in cases in NCR is now putting considerable strain in the health-care facilities in the region, which is now at 71 percent for intensive care unit beds; 64 percent for isolation beds; and 63 percent for ward beds.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will discuss on Tuesday the possible new community quarantine classification of NCR after August 20, 2021.

He said the classification may be finalized by Thursday after the period given to affected local government units to appeal their classifications.

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