MANILA — The Department of Transportation said Monday it had temporarily banned backrides on motorcycles to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This is part of the agency's guidelines for social distancing in public modes of transport, said DOTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon.
"Hindi puwede iyong mayroong backride sa mga motorsiklo. Isang tao lang po ang puwedeng isakay sa motorsiklo," he told DZMM.
(Backrides on motorcycles are not allowed. A motorcycle should have only one rider.)
"Dikit na dikit po 'pag magka-angkas sa motorsiklo. Edi iyong paglipat po ng virus, malaki po ang pagkakataon na mangyari iyon," he added.
(People are very close physically during backrides. There is a high chance for the virus to be transferred.)
The DOTr also suspended the use of motorcycles for public transport, said Tuazon.
Social distancing refers to measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people, ideally 6 feet, to slow the spread of the virus.
To encourage social distancing, the DOTr also limited the maximum number of passengers in taxis to 3. UV Express vans and public jeepneys were also ordered to ferry only half of their passenger capacity, while train coaches should carry only 25 percent of their capacity and have all passengers seated, he said.
Public vehicles from the provinces, meanwhile, are not allowed to enter Metro Manila during its monthlong lockdown. Upon reaching checkpoints, their passengers will be transferred to city vehicles, he said.
"May mababago, may kaunting inconveniences, medyo mahihirapan tayo -- hindi po ito ginagawa para pahirapan po ang publiko. Ginagawa po ito para alagaan sila," said Tuazon.
(There will be changes, some inconvenience, we will have some difficulties. We are not doing this to make the public suffer, but rather, to take care of them.)
The number of officially recorded novel coronavirus cases globally stood at 163,930 with 6,420 deaths, across 141 countries and territories on Sunday, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.
The Philippines as of Sunday has confirmed 140 cases of the respiratory disease with 12 deaths.
Nearly 70 percent of the fatalities were senior citizens and majority of those who tested positive for the virus have "underlying [health] conditions," said Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
About 80 percent of 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.
With a report from Agence France-Presse