If Metro Manila is a ‘living experiment’ then I’m a frustrated guinea pig

On July 29, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque responded to a question about Metro Manila reverting back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in an interview with CNN Philippines by saying that the capital will be a “living experiment.” 

“Metro Manila will be a living experiment and it’s an experiment that we believe we can be successful at, and it will be something that we can be proud of,” Roque said.

The capital has already been in general community quarantine for two months now, but multiple cities within the metropolis have also enforced local lockdowns to reduce the spread of the rising COVID-19 cases. Earlier today, Inquirer reported that Roque said that the country will be seeing “major changes” with the government’s COVID-19’s response referring to “massive, massive” testing,  “reintegrated” contact tracing and creating “more and more” isolation facilities.

In relation to the question about Metro Manila being placed under MECQ, Roque cited the metro’s improved case doubling rate a.k.a. the time it takes for the virus to spread from one person to another. The Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also cited this when he claimed that we have “flattened the curve.” However, Roque also mentioned the decreasing capacity of healthcare facilities to aid more patients.

“Dalawa kasi iyong criteria ‘no, the case doubling rate and our case doubling rate is fine–we’re now at 8.9 (days). We actually improved because the higher the case doubling rate is, the longer is the better,” Roque said. “It’s critical care capacity that’s the problem because ICU beds, we have reached mga around 80 percent. But there are steps that can be done–rationalization of hospital beds, including ICU beds is a solution and if we have to, we will build more ICU beds really, for as long as the case doubling rate is under control.”

We can clearly see that the rising positive cases remain to be an alarming concern but our government officials are ready to turn Metro Manila as a “living experiment.” It’s nice to know that they now see our lives not just as numbers and statistics anymore, but as guinea pigs and lab rats that they could play around with (yes, that was sarcasm).

While Roque hasn’t confirmed yet if Metro Manila will be reverting back to stricter quarantine measures, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases met on July 29 to discuss the recommendations for the new quarantine measures to be imposed on Aug. 1.

However, the final decision to extend or ease Metro Manila’s and other provinces’ quarantine measures still lies with President Duterte.

As of July 29, there are 83,673 reported cases of COVID-19 nationwide with 45,969 from Metro Manila. 26,617 patients have recovered so far while 1,947 have died.


Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

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