MANILA — Riding a jeepney puts a person at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 because of the vehicle’s layout, the Department of Health warned Tuesday, adding the risk could be lowered if minimum health standards are implemented.
“Alam naman natin napakalaki kasi ng risk pag sa jeepneys because ang kanilang sakayan ay face-to-face. Hindi katulad sa bus na mga upuan na na hindi kayo magkakaharap,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario told reporters when asked if jeepneys were actually safer because it is open-air.
(We already know that there is a huge risk with jeepneys because passengers sit face-to-face. Unlike in buses where you are not sitting in front of another person.)
Vergeire said being in an air-conditioned vehicle is okay as long as everyone is wearing a mask and they are observing physical distancing since COVID-19 is not airborne and is instead transmitted through droplets.
“With aircon o without, if you do not wear your mask, mahahawa kayo. You wear your mask and always wash your hands especially if you touch 'yung common surfaces doon sa kotse,” she said.
(With aircon or without, if you do not wear your mask you can get infected. You wear your mask and always wash your hands especially if you touch the common surfaces of the vehicle.)
Modern jeepneys resumed operations alongside city buses this week.
Vergeire said the DOTr jeepney prototype that uses barriers and ample spacing between passengers is a good way to reduce virus transmission.
“Ang problema natin dito kung makakacomply din ang jeepney drivers. Siyempre hirap din sila sa pera. So maglalabas sila ng pera para magawa ng ganito ang kanilang jeepneys,” she said.
(The problem now is if the jeepney drivers can comply. Of course they do not have money to spare. And they will need to spend so they can transform their jeepneys.)
Vergeire said that respective agencies should be able to enforce the DOH’s minimum public health standards for various settings. In the case of the jeepneys, the DOTr will be responsible.
“They have to enforce that the minimum health standards should be there and should be complied with,” she said.