MRT-3 passengers advised to observe health as COVID-19 hits 198 train employees

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2020   •   249

MANILA, Philippines – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected a total of 198 personnel of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) as of Tuesday (July 7), according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

This prompted the agency to double its contact tracing efforts among its employees to immediately identify and treat possible carriers.

Based on the DOTr’s latest data, a total of 198 MRT-3 personnel were confirmed positive for COVID-19. 

The highest number was traced among workers in the MRT-3 Depot which is at 177, followed by 15 ticket sellers, 3 train drivers, 2 control personnel, and one station nurse. 

Infected ticket sellers were traced to had been assigned in four stations namely Kamuning, Cubao, Quezon Avenue and North Avenue Stations, according to DOTr.

Those traced in North Avenue and Cubao Stations were assigned to the 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm shift and 4:30 am to 2:30 pm shift.

Those traced in Quezon Avenue station were on the 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm shift; while those traced in Kamuning Station were on duty from 4:30 am to 2:30 pm shift.

Due to the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among its personnel, the DOTr advised all passengers of MRT-3 to observe their health conditions, and, as much as possible, volunteer for 14-day home quarantine. 

“Kapag may naramdaman silang kakaiba ay agad agad silang lumapit doon sa mga local city health officers nila para makapag swabbing agad or magawan ng paraan [Once they feel something out of the ordinary, they should immediately go to their respective local city health officers for the swabbing test and address the situation],” advised DOTr Spokesperson Asec. Goddess Hope Libiran.

For now, the DOTr is finalizing the procedures on contact tracing among passengers which the agency plans to execute once the train operations resume. 

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has ordered the temporary suspension in MRT-3 operations this week to facilitate the RT-PCR testing among MRT-3 personnel. 

Thus, commuters are left with no choice but to take the augmentation buses and the EDSA Busway Service while train service is not available. 

The DOTr is asking bus operators to adjust the deployment of buses to an earlier time to avoid long lines of passengers in stations.

Pinapakiusapan natin ang contractor ng mga buses na ito na kung pwede mas agahan pa nila yung dispatch system kung kaya nila na magsimula ng 4:30 o 5:00 am, much better [We are asking bus contractors to adjust their dispatch system to an earlier time preferably 4:30 am or 5:00 am, that’s much better],” Libiran said.

The DOTr eyes the resumption of MRT-3 operations on July 11 but it will depend on the results of the ongoing COVID-19 testing among its personnel. 

MRT-3 has over 3,200 personnel and a regular train operation under limited manpower will require at least 1,300 employees.

But once around 964 personnel test negative of the virus, train operation may likely to resume, the DOTr said. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Filipinos abroad with COVID-19 now at 9,607 – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2020

The number of Filipinos overseas who have contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has increased to 9,607 with 10 new infections, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

In its latest bulletin, the DFA said 28 more Filipinos have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 5,681.

The death toll remained at 693, it added.

“As we continue to battle against this pandemic, the DFA rallies the Filipinos here and abroad to cooperate and responsibly adhere to precautionary measures of the local health authorities of the respective countries in which they reside,” the department said in a statement.

The DFA also reported that 3,233 are undergoing treatment.

Of this number, 254 are in the Asia Pacific Region, 512 in Europe, 2,327 in the Middle East and Africa, and 140 in the Americas, it added.

Mandaluyong LGU puts city under special concern lockdown

Maris Federez   •   August 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Mandaluyong has put all barangays in the city under special concern lockdown amid the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila.

Eleven barangays in the city are classified as areas of special concern by the local government due to high cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

But with the reversion of the National Capital Region (NCR) to MECQ on Tuesday (Aug. 4), the Mandaluyong government decided to put the whole city on special concern lockdown.

Mandaluyong’s Executive Order (EO) No 24 stated that under special concern lockdown, stricter curfew measures will be implemented from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

Only individuals classified as Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) will be allowed to go out.

The city government is also mulling over applying the previous MECQ guidelines anew, such as on scheduling market days in every barangay.

With the start of the curfew on Tuesday night, the local government advises those who work on graveyard shifts to secure a work pass from their employers.  

“Yung mga work passes kasi ang requirements lang naman niyan per barangay is to ahow to the barangay their ano certificate of employment. para atleast kahit papaano, makapasok sila sa trabaho nila,” said Jimmy Isidro, the Mandaluyong City government chief of staff.

The city government is also considering enforcing liquor ban in the area anew during the MECQ.

Employees at the Mandaluyong City Hall are also on a skeleton workforce to receive documents and transactions as business in the city is open as usual. — (with details from Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

Former gov’t COVID-19 special adviser calls for voluntary ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   August 4, 2020

Dr. Tony Leachon

MANILA, Philippines — Former Covid-19 National Task Force Adviser Dr. Tony Leachon said he recommended the re-imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila when he was invited to the Malacañan Palace on July 15.

Last weekend, medical professionals expressed the same recommendation to the national government in hopes of stopping the mounting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

But because of economic considerations, the government has decided to reinforce modified ECQ instead.

Leachon said he welcomes this decision.

“The MECQ has activity and mobility of 50 percent. It will not totally stop the transmission,” he noted.

“But we will observe in the next two weeks whether the MECQ will arrest the transmission,” he added.

He explained that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is alarming considering that there are unreported cases, or even deaths linked to the new coronavirus.

“When they go to the emergency room they are severely sick then would be intubated and they die, or they are rejected from the hospital so they die at home, or they don’t have access to RT-PCR because it’s expensive” Leachon explained.

So ang daming namamatay diyan na ganyan (So, many cases die that way )” he added.

At this point of the pandemic, Leachon is calling on the public to submit themselves to a voluntary ECQ especially the old and the sick.

Tayo na ang magboluntaryo mismo na huwag na tayo makadagdag. Ang lumabas na lang ay iyong talagang kailangang lumabas, iyong 50% ng workforce (Let’s take it upon ourselves not to add to the problem. Only those who need to go out should be outside, such as 50% of the workforce),” Leachon advised.

“Pero iyong iba, iyong 25% doon sa GCQ ay huwag na po. Huwag na, kasi kapag nagkasakit kayo wala ng pera nga ang government tapos baka magkasakit pa ang mga doktor (But others, the 25% in the GCQ areas, it’s better not to go out. Refrain from going out because once you get sick, the government no longer has funds and worse, the doctors might get sick as well)” he stressed.

Dr. Leachon also highlights the importance of adhering to the minimum health standards, including wearing a face mask and face shield, and using disinfectant for protection. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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