Solon pushes for mandatory use of face shield in public transport

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2020   •   350

MANILA, Philippines — House Committee on Transportation Chair Edgar Sarmiento submitted a resolution seeking to make wearing of face-shields in public transport mandatory.

Sarmiento argued that with such measure, the government may increase the allowable capacity of public utility vehicles as face shields could protect commuters from COVID-19 transmission. 

Sarmiento also urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to oblige commuters to don personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face mask, face shield, gloves and similar protective gear to curb the spread of the virus in public transport.

The lawmaker cited in his resolution a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Standards which revealed that wearing a face shield gives 96% protection from exposure to the virus and 97% protection from contamination and infection.

“We will be increasing, supposedly, the capacity of the rails, the capacity of the buses,” Sarmiento noted.

“Pero ang pasahero kung naka-shield may maskara not only 50% we can increase it further. Tapos hindi lang sila nagkakaharap nagtatalikuran din sila, (If passengers wear face shield, we could allow not only 50% but we can increase it further. Also, aside from facing each other, commuters may also seat back-to-back),” he added.

Wearing a face shield is also being proposed to be included in the government’s minimum public health standards which, if approved, will become mandatory in public areas.

“We will execute the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Ito po yung hugas kamay, suot ng mask, social distancing at pagsuot na rin po ng face shields, apat na po ngayon ang ating minimum public health standards, ( these are the washing of hands, wearing of face mask, social distancing, and wearing of face shield. Those four now comprise our minimum public health standards),” he added.

Meanwhile, Dean Vicente Belizario of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Public Health said there is no assurance that a person will not get infected when using or wearing a face shield.

Even the use of motorcycle backride barriers cannot guarantee full protection from infection. 

“Kulang pa po ang ebidensya. Maaaring gumawa ng pag-aaral para ma-establish kung ano ang naitutulong ng barrier o shield pero (There is not enough evidence. Maybe a study can be made to determine the value of a barrier or shield) theoretically, it should add to the layers of protection,” Belizo explained. 

He said that it is still best to constantly remind passengers and drivers to properly wear their PPEs and religiously obey all government – imposed health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

List of allowed and prohibited public transport under MECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   August 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) reminds the public that as certain areas in the country reverts back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), limitations on public transportation will again be imposed.

For areas placed under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), public transportation is not allowed, and some transportation services will remain limited.

This applies to Metro Manila or the National Capital Region and Region 4A specifically Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal as approved by President Rodrigo Duterte and announced on Sunday (August 2).

READ: Duterte reverts NCR, nearby areas to MECQ beginning Tuesday, August 4

Only public shuttles for frontline workers or those who will return to work in allowed industries under the MECQ will be allowed. 

Meanwhile, all other public utility vehicles (PUV) like buses, jeepneys, taxis, transport network service vehicles (TNVS) will not be allowed.

Exemptions for tricycles, however, will be determined based on the guidelines set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the local government units. 

Trail operations will remain suspended to include the services of the Philippine National Railways (PNR), LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3.

In the private sector, only company shuttles are allowed with 50% passenger capacity and a special permit from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Meanwhile, personal vehicles owned by persons or workers in permitted sectors are also allowed with only two person passenger capacity.

Other vehicles like bicycle, motorcycle, or e-scooter are allowed but only for authorized persons outside residence (APOR) with a maximum passenger capacity of one person.

Image may contain: text that says 'Public and Private Transport during the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) Public Rail(PNR,LRT-1,LRT-2MRT-3) Bus Jeepney Taxi X X X X TNVS Tricycle Exceptions subject Private inAllowedIndustries Company Shuttle Special Personal vehicle Capacity) Bicycle permitted sectors/activities persons 1person Motorcycle E-Scooter 1person 1person (subject lations) existing ALLOWED X NOT ALLOWED *Only Authorized Persons Outside Residence are permitted go and travel within @DOTrPH with limits. @DOTrPH'

Philippines to start local production of PPEs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – To address the increasing demand for personal protective equipment (PPEs) in the country, the national government and member-companies of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) will begin local production of medical-grade PPEs for healthcare workers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Garment exporters agreed to begin production next week as soon as the imported materials arrive.

“Once operational, these factories will be able to produce 10,000 PPEs a day,” assured Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Once completed, the locally-produced PPEs are expected to help frontline health workers in COVID-risk hospital situations in operating rooms, COVID-19 positive wards and Intensive Care Units (ICU).

Healthcare groups have been reportedly calling for donations of PPEs amid depleting supplies due to the rapid spike of coronavirus positive cases in the country.

Since April 1, the Department of Health (DOH) have facilitated the arrival of PPE sets procured by the national government which were initially distributed to COVID-19 referral hospitals like the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC); San Lazaro Hospital; Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP); Philippine General Hospital (PGH); Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital; and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC).

The DOH said additional 900,000 PPE donations are scheduled to arrive between April 6 to 24.  MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

PH authorities on alleged raid, confiscation of PPEs in hospitals: ‘Fake news!’

Robie de Guzman   •   April 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities on Thursday denied information circulating online that the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) is raiding private hospitals and confiscating stocks of personal protective equipment amid novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

May kumalat po na fake news that some hospitals were raided by government, specifically OCD, to confiscate their supplies and equipment para ipamigay sa ibang hospitals. Fake news po yan,” Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC), said in a message to reporters.

The OCD is the implementing arm of the NDRRMC.

On Wednesday night, information about the supposed raid made rounds on social media. The confiscated medical supplies were allegedly being consolidated to be distributed to other health facilities with attributions to a senator.

In a social media post, the Medical City denied the occurrence of such an incident.

“There are news circulating that a raid of PPEs occurred in our premises on the evening of April 1. We deny this and encourage everyone to be careful in spreading unverified information,” the post read.

Senator Bong Go, whose name surfaced in social media posts in connection with the purported incident, denied the allegation.

“Claims circulating that I am involved in handling donations intended for the government are utterly false, deliberate disinformation, and black propaganda,” Go said in a statement.

He also denied having any hand in OCD operations after it was tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to manage, consolidate and allocate all donations of medical supplies in relation to the government’s COVID-19 response.

“Nais ko po klaruhin na wala po akong kinalaman sa operasyon at mandato ng OCD. Wala rin pong kinalaman ang opisina ko sa distribution ng government resources,” Go said.

According to Timbal, the OCD, like what was done in previous disaster response operations, has been gathering resources through procurement and donations.

“In the case of the COVID-19 response, OCD procured PPEs and other medical supplies and received donations from various donors. These are then provided to various hospital recipients,” he said.

“We are very grateful po to all our donors and the member-agencies of the NDRRMC who provide logistical support for the transport of the various items that we are giving to hospitals across the country,” he added.

He also thanked the media for helping the agency in its fight against false information.

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