What social distancing? Commuters in crammed buses and jeepneys on first day of work week


Posted at Mar 16 2020 10:21 AM | Updated as of Mar 16 2020 04:31 PM

MANILA - Hundreds of commuters in Metro Manila were seen riding cramped buses and jeepneys on the first day of the work week following the imposition of a metro-wide community quarantine to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

In photos taken by ABS-CBN photographers and contributors on Monday, commuters in Quezon City were seen riding packed public transport vehicles, violating the government-imposed "social distancing," which requires spacing of at least 1 meter in diameter.

Commuters ride a bus from Commonwealth Avenue on the second day of the Metro Manila community quarantine on March 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

In another photo, a jeepney is seen loaded with passengers when it should be carrying only half its capacity. 

A jeepney is seen filled with passengers at the southbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue on March 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Commuters waiting for a ride at the southbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue also failed to comply with the imposed social distancing practices. 

Commuters fill parts of the southbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue on the second day of the Metro Manila community quarantine on March 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

In its social distancing guidelines issued Saturday, the Department of Transportation said public utility vehicles must have fewer passengers, and commuters must be positioned at least 1 seat apart.

A health expert has advised against overloading vehicles, especially during a public health crisis. 

“If someone is sick, stay home and don’t use public transport. Wash your hands. Drivers shouldn’t overload their vehicles, and ideally should keep windows open. Mask use while controversial can be done but needs to be in combination with frequent handwashing and other sanitary practices,” said Dr. Edsel Salvana, a clinical associate professor at the Philippine General Hospital and director of University of the Philippines Manila's Institute of Molecular Biology. 

MRT implements social distancing

Commuters were also at a snail-paced movement at the Metro Rail Transit, as the train management imposed social distancing. 

The usual Monday morning rush hour at the MRT saw longer queues. 

Commuters queue at the MRT Shaw Station while observing the one-meter "social distancing" at 6:15AM, Monday, 16 March 2020, the 1st day of work in Metro Manila after the imposition of "community quarantine" on March 15. Larry Monserate Piojo, ABS-CBN News

Train operators previously assured the public that coaches and train stations are regularly sanitized and disinfected for the riding public’s safety.

About 80 percent of COVID-19 cases have been mild, while the remaining serious cases that required hospitalization affected mainly people over 60 and those with conditions like diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, US health officials earlier said, citing Chinese data. 

Metro Manila and several provinces have been placed under community quarantine in a bid to prevent the virus spread.

As of Sunday, there are 140 cases of COVID-19 in the country, including 12 fatalities.