UP study recommends two week extension of quarantine plus mass testing

Apr. 16, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Research studies from the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Min) recommends the extension of community quarantine in Davao to two weeks and must be accompanied by tests to curb the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

These recommendations were based on a simulation made by the UP Min’s interdisciplinary Applied Modeling (IAM) Laboratory where they factored in the timeline of cases of Covid-19 in Davao region from March 15 to April 4, the period when the community quarantine was implemented.

The modeling considered that if the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine would be made in April, says Dr. Mary Anne Mata, head of the IAM Lab, showed “the infected population will continue to persist.”

“For instance, we see that the exposed population is stable from May to July after it peaks during the last week of March.”

The Davao Region Inter-Agency Task Force extended the ECQ, which was supposed to end on April 15, to 11 more days until April 26.

Dr. Mata said that lifting the ECQ “prematurely is very risky”, and recommends extending the quarantine for 14 days to see if now new cases and suspects be recorded in that period.

The next phase of the group study will fit the model on data within the duration of ECQ from April 4 to 19.

READ: Davao extends enhanced community quarantine until April 26

More Covid-19 testing pushed

Another study made by the IAM Laboratory showed the importance of mass testing of persons under monitoring (PUM) and persons under investigation (PUI), especially to identify persons who are asymptomatic and can spread the disease to the population.

“We recommend that the government should consider testing more PUMs and/or PUIs in the region for early detection of the infected population so that these individuals will be isolated immediately from the susceptible pool,” the study states.

The study was based on the Covid-19 cases reported from the Department of Health in a 40-day observation period.

The study’s findings recommend prioritizing testing on persons 75 years old and older, and those with pre-existing medical conditions, and PUMs who are assumed to be asymptomatic, as well as health workers in the frontline of treating Covid-19 patients.

The study said setting up more test centers can speed up test results, noting that results obtained within one to three days after the onset of symptoms reduce risks of death to almost zero percent.

The Philippine Genome Center Mindanao earlier proposed setting up a diagnostic program for free testing to boost the capacity in Davao Region. They recommend setting up the center to the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Tagum City.

READ: UP Mindanao proposes diagnostic program for COVID-19 testing

In Mindanao, the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is the only reference laboratory authorized to perform the real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), the molecular diagnostic testing by the World Health Organization for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) detection.

READ: DOH, SPMC want more COVID-19 testing labs in Mindanao

The UP Min’s IAM Lab is part of the UP System Covid-19 Pandemic Response Team-Bioinformatics and Modeling Group composed of mathematicians pooled from all UP campuses. (davaotoday.com)

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