© Danny Pata Members of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) man a checkpoint at the boundary of Muntinlupa City and Laguna in Susana Heights, San Pedro, on Monday, March 29, 2021, to prevent the entry of those who are not authorized persons outside residence (APOR). Authorities have been strict on the first day of the reimplementation of enhanced community quarantine in the 'NCR Plus' area to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. DANNY PATA

The one-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) reimposed over Metro Manila and neighboring areas will not be enough to sustain a downward trend in COVID-19 infections, a health official said Monday.

Department of Health (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau director Dr. Alethea De Guzman said the tightening of restrictions from March 29 to April 4 will cause cases to “slightly decline but will increase one week after [the] end of ECQ.” 

A projection by modeling tool FASSSTER showed that cases in Metro Manila could still breach 500,000 if it reverts to the “bubble” policy along with Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, and Laguna after the one-week ECQ.

Over 300,000 of the 721,892 infections nationwide as of Sunday afternoon are in Metro Manila. 

“Kaya ‘yung isa sa pino-propose, ‘yung isa sa nirerekomenda ng ating eksperto ay baka kinakailangang i-extend dahil doon sa pag-extend ng ECQ, doon natin nakikita ‘yung tuloy tuloy na pagbaba ng kaso,” De Guzman said in a Palace briefing.

(That’s why one of the proposals of our experts is maybe we need to extend the ECQ for us to see a continued decrease in cases.)

The health official also said the country posted a 126% two-week growth rate of COVID-19 cases, meaning infections recorded during March 14 to 27 were two times higher than the same figures during February 28 to March 13.

De Guzman urged the public to observe health protocols, seek early testing and isolation after developing symptoms, and cooperate with contact tracers.

“Sayang po kasi ‘yung ECQ kung hindi natin ito gagawin. Parang nag-lockdown lang pero makikita natin mamaya wala po o kaunti lamang ang epekto nito kung hindi po sasamahan nong dalawang bagay na ‘to,” she said.

(The ECQ will go to waste and the lockdown would have little to no effect if we don’t do these.)

The government earlier admitted that contact tracing is the weakest link in its pandemic response. 

The DOH has also said the country could have up to 430,000 active cases by the end of April if tougher measures against COVID-19 would not be implemented.  — RSJ, GMA News