Citing studies, Duque says relaxed distance policy will lead to higher daily COVID-19 cases

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2020 01:55 AM

Citing studies, Duque says relaxed distance policy will lead to higher daily COVID-19 cases 1
Commuters take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Manila on September 14, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Shortening the required physical distance between passengers in public transportation will lead to a higher number of coronavirus infections being recorded daily in the Philippines, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said Monday. 

Citing studies by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC), Duque said in a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte and other Cabinet members that the reduction alone of the required distance between passengers to 0.75 meters from 1 meter is likely to result to 686 additional new infections daily.

"At a 50 percent ridership -- ang papasakayin 50 porsyento ng population dito sa NCR (National Capital Region) -- ang new cases everyday will reach 686 per day. If you multiply that by 30 days, you will have about 20,580 cases," he said.

"If you multiply that by 1.6, which is our case mortality rate, meaning the number of deaths over the number of total infection, ang lalabas po rito 3,951 deaths per year," he added.

Duque said he will recommend the studies of AIM and HPAAC to the Philippines inter-agency task force (IATF) focused on coronavirus response on Tuesday, which he is the chairperson of.

As the new policy took effect earlier in the day, Malacañang said medical professionals will be consulted on the issue Tuesday by the IATF.

Medical professionals have said this poses risks amid the ongoing health crisis.

Duterte has yet to approve the distancing reduction, but Cabinet officials have already greenlighted the policy in response to the need of the country to re-open the economy, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.