MANILA - The Philippines can mitigate the risks of the coronavirus even if physical distancing in public transportation is eased, the chief implementer of the country's pandemic response strategy said Monday.
This, after the health and transportation departments stood by differing views regarding the reduction of the required distance between passengers to 0.75 meters from 1 meter in public utility vehicles (PUVs).
National Task Force COVID-19 policy chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said that easing physical distancing measures will work as long as other standards like the use of face masks, face shields, and the prohibition of talking will be strictly implemented.
“With the protection ng face mask and face shield, no talking para no droplet. Dapat no talking, no eating, no use of cellphone. Yung iba like sa Japan, no talking pero dikit-dikit na (sa PUVs),” Galvez said.
He claimed that the risk of virus transmission in public vehicles is not high, compared to homes and workplaces.
“Ang pinaka-vulnerable bahay or community kasi tinatanggal ang face mask sa bahay. Pati na sa workplace, like canteen and smoking area. Pero shuttles and transport, hindi naman masyado,” Galvez said.
However, he clarified that other risk mitigation measures should also be in place, like ensuring there is proper ventilation in PUVs.
“Lahat may risks. If we reduce to 1 meter to 0.75, may gagawin tayong risk mitigation. One is proper ventilation, dapat nagsi-circulate ang hangin. Ang MRT, sinisimulate na ng DOTr (Department of Transportation). Bago patakbuhin, may mitigation process,” Galvez said.
"Dapat talaga, avoid the 3 C’s: crowding, close contact, and confined spaces."
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Monday started the implementation of the gradual easing of physical distancing in public transportation vehicles.