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Medical experts back <1m distance in PUVs as long as ‘7 commandments’ are followed—the what?

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Starting this week, more commuters can now be accommodated in trains, modern public utility vehicles and buses addressing transport woes for back-to-work Filipinos. But at what cost? You might have heard that the Department of Transportation recommended easing the one-meter social distancing guideline to 0.75m and eventually to 0.5m and 0.3m in the coming weeks. 

[READ: Commuters, prepare to be ‘closer’ to other passengers soon—even if it’s against WHO guidelines]

It is now being implemented and is, in fact, backed by medical experts who come from diverse backgrounds. Who are they, you ask? The panel is composed of former Department of Health secretaries Dr. Manuel Dayrit and Dr. Esperanza Cabral, University of the Philippines (UP)-Manila College of Public Health Dean Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., UP Manila Environmental and Occupational Health Department chair Dr. Michael Hernandez, National Task Force against COVID-19 special advisor Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, Philippine College of Surgeons Cancer Commission Director Dr. Manuel Francisco Roxas, Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines founder and CEO Dr. Ma. Dominga Padilla and infectious disease specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante.

However, they are not advocating for reduced social distancing alone. Earlier this week, they forwarded a “more comprehensive set of recommendations” to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

This includes the so-called “seven commandments,” a set of guidelines that will be strictly implemented in all modes of public transportation to supplement the reduced social distancing measure.

 

No, this is not a revised version of the Biblical text but it outlines the following health precautions commuters need to take and PUV operators need to observe:

  1. Wearing of proper face masks
  2. Wearing of face shields
  3. No talking and no eating
  4. Adequate ventilation
  5. Frequent and proper disinfection
  6. No symptomatic passengers
  7. Appropriate physical distancing
As of Sept. 14, MRT-3 served 67,847 passengers and recorded an average number of 17 running trains at peak hours, which includes 15 CKD train sets and two Dalian train sets. Photo by DOTr MRT-3 Facebook page

“By imposing these strict measures, we believe we can gradually relax social distancing rules, in order to double or even triple our current public transport capacity, without compromising public health,” the panel said in a statement.

In the same vein, the experts said that the success of these new guidelines is not guaranteed and is reliant on the “proper implementation and enforcement” by the relevant government agencies.

“Critically, it also requires the education of the public, who must take full responsibility for compliance with the seven commandments,” they added. “This plan’s success also rests on continuous monitoring and data-driven evaluation by public health experts.”

 

Header image courtesy of DOTrMRT-3 Facebook page

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Read more:

Commuters, prepare to be ‘closer’ to other passengers soon—even if it’s against WHO guidelines

Sshh, you’re not allowed to answer phone calls or talk inside MRT-3

How to keep yourself virus-free on commutes

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