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UPMin’s mathematicians recommend continuing lockdown beyond April 19

A modeling study from the University of Philippines-Mindanao has concluded the need to extend the community quarantine of Davao City beyond April 19.

Researchers at UPMin’s Interdisciplinary Applied Modeling (IAM) laboratory conducted three studies to provide the local government with relevant research for science-based decision-making.

The IAM is part of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team–Bioinformatics and Modeling Group, which is mainly composed of mathematicians across the different UP campuses.

With this, researchers came up with a recommendation to consider extending the community quarantine beyond April 19, the end-date of the community quarantine in the city.

“When CQ (community quarantine) is lifted on April 19, the infected population will continue to persist,” the study found. “For instance, we see that the exposed population is stable from May to July after it peaks during the last week of March.”

“However, if we maintain CQ at the status quo’s rates of transmission and confirmation, we observe a decreasing trend in the number of exposed individuals around mid-May,” the researchers also said.

May Anne E. Mata, UPMin associate professor of applied mathematics and one of the authors of the study, said in a message sent to TIMES that the research only covered the period of the community quarantine.

She said they still need to apply the data points from April 4 to the latest date to determine the efficacy of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The executive order enabling the ECQ began on April 4 and ends on April 19.

Two weeks more

The researcher then recommended that the community quarantine should be extended for another two weeks, as the region has recorded from zero to three cases in the last few days. But they also need to perform model-fitting from the day the ECQ was implemented until April 19.

President Rodrigo Duterte also signed the order extending the ECQ in Luzon until April 30. The Regional Task Force COVID-19 has not issued a similar recommendation.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sara Duterte previously said that she’s awaiting the advice from the infectious disease specialists whether or not to extend the ECQ in Davao City.

Massive tests needed

The study also showed the importance of testing persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs) in the region.

“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 second study states.

The study said that this point is particularly important for asymptomatic individuals who may show no signs of disease, but may freely and unknowingly spread the disease to the population.

“One can consider testing those PUIs and PUMs who surely had contact with people who are positive for COVID-19, (and) these include frontliners,” Mata said.

The last study collated available information from COVID-19 positive cases from the Department of Health within a 40-day observation period to assess the risk factors that increase a patient’s hazard rate.

Based on the findings, the study recommends prioritizing for testing patients who are 75 years and older and those with preexisting medical conditions once they experience coughing, persons under monitoring who might be asymptomatic patients, as well as those with high exposure to the COVID-19 positive patients such as health workers.

Also, setting up more testing centers in the different regions is vital to contain COVID-19 cases as the study shows that “having test results within 1 to 3 days after the onset of symptoms reduces hazard rates to almost 0%.”

The study finds a direct correlation between the cohort survival rate and the period of testing. The earlier the test results, the higher the survival rate.

“Actually, that is the best recommendation we can give assuming we have available test kits. We also want to push for test labs here in Davao region for speedy results,” she said.


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