MANILA -- "Social distancing" will be observed in public transport in Metro Manila to arrest the spread of COVID-19 while the region is under "community quarantine," a health official said Friday.
The Department of Transportation will release social distancing guidelines, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
President Rodrigo Duterte said the MRT, LRT 1, LRT 2 and PNR trains will remain open during the 1-month quarantine. From March 15 to April 14, passenger travel to and from the capital will be restricted with exemptions for food and essential supplies.
"We like to approach it in an integrated manner... social distancing measures will be implemented such as suspension of classes, suspension of work and decongesting our transport system," Vergeire said.
"We have to ensure that these transport vehicles will not be so congested to have the disease spread or the transmission would be there," she said.
Vergeire described the Metro Manila quarantine to a "modified lockdown."
"We focus on quarantine of the community and still providing for them, their basic necessities," she said. "Special circumstances may be allowed to enter or leave Metro Manila."
"We are asking our people to be vigilant, stay calm. We are not going to deny people basic services. Government is going to oversee the implementation of community quarantine," she said.
Citing the quarantine experiences of China, where new cases had been slowing, and Italy, which has the most number of infections in Europe, Vergeire said: "The most appropriate time is as early as possible. The timing we have implemented is most appropriate for us at this time."