Slight decline in progression rate of Covid-19 cases: NTF

The National Task Force (NTF) on Wednesday reported some initial gains in its ongoing campaign against the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“After three weeks of enhanced community quarantine [in Luzon], we already observed a slight decline in the number of new people who were infected by Covid-19,” NTF medical adviser and former health undersecretary Ted Herbosa said in a press briefing.

Last Saturday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported the lowest number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in a day at 76, the lowest since March 21, when the number of new cases of the pandemic disease was only 71.

It rose again the following day, with 152 cases and on Monday with a whopping 414 new cases. It declined again on Tuesday with 104 cases.

As of April 8, 2020, DOH reported there were 3,879 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country. Of which, 106 were new cases.

To note, President Rodrigo R. Duterte placed the entire Luzon island under enhanced community quarantine on March 17, 2020. It was supposed to end on April 13, but was extended up to April 30, 2020.

Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said they were waiting for the completion of the month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) before coming out with a accurate trend analysis on the country’s Covid-19 incidents.

Testing capacity

NTF spokesperson Retsituto Padilla said they hope to sustain the decline in the number of confirmed new Covid-19 cases in the coming days through the government’s national action plan (NAP) against the pandemic illness, which focuses on testing and isolating Covid patients and then tracing who they interacted with.

He said the Muntinlupa-based Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), which serves as the “systemic core” Covid-testing strategy, is already on its way of achieving its target of processing 10,000 Covid samples per day.

“To avoid backlog, it [RITM] distributed 300,000 testing kits to accredited Covid testing centers nationwide,” Padilla said.

Once it achieves this target, he said they will aim to improve the testing capability of the accredited testing centers nationwide by distributing 900,000 test kits to the said facilities.

Mega quarantine facility

Padilla said they are also in the process of increasing the number of large quarantine and isolation facilities.

He said these include the Philippine Arena, a Bulacan-based facility owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo, which is now in the process of being converted into a “mega quarantine” facility.

“Based on our schedule it will be completed by next week. It has the capacity to accommodate 2,000 patients. It has three quarantine tents and can accommodate more than 1,000 asymptomatic patients,” Padilla said.

The retired general said it will serve patients from Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela and Bulacan.

He said the completion of such large quarantine facilities will help decongest Covid-19 referral hospitals.

Model LGU

Padilla said they hope to execute the NAP with the cooperation of the local government units (LGUs) in the coming days to further delay the spread of Covid-19.

He aid the NTC is eyeing Baguio City led by its mayor and former Philippine National Police (PNP) general, Benjamin Magalong, as a model LGU in terms of its effective anti-Covid measures.

He said the city managed to contain its Covid-19 cases by maintaining transparency in its communication to the public as well as initiating mass testing and effective contact tracing.

“All of these are in line with the national action plan template. This is what we want other LGUs to understand and implement in other parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” Padilla said.

As of Wednesday, there were no new Covid-19 cases in Baguio City for 11 straight days.

Image Credits: Toto Lozano, Malacañang Presidential Photographers Division via AP

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