DOTr imposes stricter protocols in transportation in areas under ECQ

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 3, 2021   •   312

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation will impose stricter health protocols in public utility vehicles (PUVs) in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said only authorized persons outside residence (APORs) as identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will be accommodated by public transport services.

The department already retained the current public transport supply and capacity of 50% for areas under ECQ.

“APORs are reminded to be ready to present to transport marshals identification cards issued by the IATF or other documents or IDs as proof that they are authorized to travel,” Tugade said.

During the ECQ, public and private vehicles shall strictly observe the prescribed physical distancing and sanitary measures at all times.

For PUVs, such as buses and jeepneys are allowed to operate at 50% capacity on a “one-seat-apart” setup. Standing passengers will not be allowed, and only one passenger will be allowed at the driver’s row.

For tricycles, operations will depend on the approval of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the local government. If operations are allowed, tricycle passenger load shall not exceed one passenger in the sidecar.

All trains of the Philippine National Railways, LRT-1, LRT-2, and the MRT-3 will have transport marshals to enforce health protocols and to identify APORs. Trains will also be disinfected after every loop. Passengers showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board trains. Temperature checks will be done at station entrances.

Marshals would be strictly enforcing the seven commandments of public transport safety at the transport stations and terminals, and inside public transport vehicles.

The 7 Commandments for Public Transport, based on the recommendations of health experts, are:

1. Wear masks and face shields;
2. No talking and making phone calls;
3. No eating;
4. Keep public utility vehicles well-ventilated;
5. Conduct frequent disinfection;
6. No passengers with COVID-19 symptoms are to be allowed inside public transportation; and
7. Observe appropriate physical distancing (“one-seat-apart”) rule

“We, therefore, remind the riding public of the importance of stringently observing the Public Transport Health Protocols, based on the recommendations of health experts, to protect and uphold the overall welfare of the passengers, and other transport stakeholders,” Tugade said. AAC

Quezon City gov’t looking into possible causes of COVID-19 spread in 2 convents

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

The Quezon City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) is currently looking into the possible causes of COVID-19 outbreak in two convents in the city, the local government said Thursday.

In a statement, the city government said massive contact tracing efforts are underway to contain the further transmission of the virus.

A total of 114 individuals, including 64 nuns and 50 staff members, tested positive for COVID-19 at the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) in Cubao.

At the Convent of the Holy Spirit, 22 individuals were confirmed to have caught the virus, including 13 nuns and 9 staff members.

The city government said both facilities have been placed under lockdown.

CESU chief Dr. Rolando Cruz said they became aware of the situation after the cases were recorded in the surveillance data reported by a testing laboratory.

“Hindi po tayo ang nag-swab sa kanila. Nagpa-test po sila sa iba at nang lumabas na ang resulta sa laboratory, na-record ito sa surveillance data,” he said in the same statement.

“Now, our team is conducting an investigation and intensive contact tracing to get more details about the matter,” he added.

Cruz said part of the ongoing investigation is to determine if any of the positive individuals had any close contact with anyone outside of their facility.

Initial investigation revealed that a nun at the Convent of Holy Spirit passed away due to COVID-19 in early September. A physical therapist in the facility was reportedly exposed to the patient.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte earlier ordered the CESU to conduct active surveillance of closed settings in the city such as nursing homes and convents after 122 people, including 99 children, in an orphanage tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 reproduction rate in NCR slows down to 1.28 – OCTA

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The reproduction number of coronavirus disease in the National Capital Region (NCR) has improved in the past few days, the OCTA Research Group said Thursday.

In a report posted on Twitter, OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David noted that NCR’s reproduction number, which refers to the average number of secondary infections by each positive case, eased to 1.28 from Sept. 9 to 15.

This rate is lower than the 1.39 reported during the period covering Sept. 2 to 8.

David also noted that the one-week growth rate of NCR dipped to 9 percent from Sept. 8 to 15, compared to the 14 percent recorded from Sept. 2 to 8.

“Kapag bumaba iyong reproduction number kumakaunti ang hawaan, bumabagal ang hawaan. The growth rate will also decrease like ngayon sa NCR, 1.28 reproduction number growth rate is 9% kapag bumaba ang reproduction number to 1 iyong growth rate naman pababa to 0% then magiging negative,” David said in an interview.

“Kapag negative na ang growth rate ibig sabihin kumakaunti na ang cases natin… In fact, nationally 6% na lang ang nadagdag,” he added.

David also said that the capital region recorded an average of 5,819 cases per day over the past week, while the daily attack rate per 100,000 population climbed to 41.66 from the previous 38.24. It also registered a positivity rate of 25 percent.

He noted that the NCR has not yet peaked but there is hope that it may happen in one or two weeks.

“We might be getting close to the peak nationally… That’s why we have renewed again hope that we might not hit 30,000,” he said.

“Most likely today we’ll see 20,000+ cases […] even up to 21,000 to 22,000 but we hope na it will be controlled in the sense it will not exceed the previous high 25,000-26,000. Maybe the trend will start to decrease,” he added.

David also expressed hope that the country’s health system will be able to take a breather by next month if the downward trend continues.

“Based on the trends that we are seeing, by October I am predicting —hindi ito projection, may kasamang hope and prayer — that by October, downward trend na tayo,” he said.

“Pero iyong hospitalization will still remain high for foreseeable future up to the next few weeks,” he added.

He, however, called on the public to continue adhering to the minimum public health and quarantine protocols to help curb COVID-19 infections.

PH lists 21,261 new COVID-19 cases; death toll breaches 36K

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday recorded 21,261 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the tally of cases to 2,304,192 since the pandemic began in 2020.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the additional cases pushed the country’s active tally to 177,946.

Of the active cases, 86.1 percent are mild, 9.2 percent are asymptomatic, 2.65 percent are moderate, 1.4 percent are severe, and 0.6 percent are in critical condition.

Meanwhile, total recoveries rose to 2,090,228 with 13,644 new recovered patients.

Fatalities climbed to 36,018 after 277 more patients succumbed to the viral disease.

Two laboratories failed to submit data on time, the DOH noted in its report.

Out of the 74,149 tests reported on Sept. 14, around 27 percent have been found positive for COVID-19.

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