THE Philippines should try to temper the rise in coronavirus infections to better prepare its health system pending global efforts to come up with a vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Governments that have imposed lockdowns should balance the increase in cases and their healthcare systems’ preparedness in deciding whether to lift it, Barbara Marston, CDC COVID-19 International Task Force lead, said at a teleconference on Wednesday.

“Nobody knows completely how to do that yet,” Ms. Marston said. “The factors you have to consider are, have cases declined? What would happen if there were more cases? Is the health system ready to take on more cases? And balance all those things,” she added.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked the entire Luzon island on March 17, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. He later extended the quarantine by two more weeks until April 30.

The Department of Health (DoH) started operating 15 testing centers this week, increasing capacities to 3,000 samples daily.

A task force against the coronavirus disease 2019 plans to boost the number of tests to 10,000 samples a day.

The CDC recommended maintaining efforts to “slow down” the spread of COVID-19 that has infected 1.9 million and killed more than 126,000 people while increasing testing capacity.

Ms. Marston said keeping people in isolation and imposing social distancing measures could slow infections, while more health workers should be trained.

“What you want to do is slow things down and then use the time that you gain by slowing anything down to do anything possible to prepare the health system,” she said.

“If we’re lucky, we can slow things down long enough to maybe get a vaccine or some treatment, but we don’t have those right now,” she added.

Meanwhile, Party-list Rep. Elizaldy S. Co proposed that quarantines be lifted in provinces and cities that have had zero to one coronavirus infection in the past 15 days.

“The objective of quarantine lifting is to allow people, albeit in limited numbers and in select localities, to return to their jobs,” the congressman said in a statement.

“We’re fighting a protracted war and until no vaccine is invented, the government’s limited resources can’t support and feed all those who were displaced. We need to save government funds for the longer battle,” he added. — C. A. Tadalan and G. L. Espedido