Wearing facemasks, social distancing can help curb COVID-19 spread in PUVs – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2020   •   362

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reiterated that wearing facemasks and observing social distancing can help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease, especially when riding public utility vehicles.

This was the response of the DOH to the statement of research group IBON Foundation that riding open-air vehicles such as jeepneys would not pose any risk of getting COVID-19.

“The mode of transmission is droplet infection. With our without aircon, basta naka-mask kayo lahat, you are distant to the person next to you at hindi kayo cramped, the possibility of getting infected is very low,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.

The IBON Foundation earlier said that traditional open-air public utility jeepneys are safer for passengers compared with air-conditioned modern jeepneys amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group cited numerous findings of researchers and guidelines from authorities around the world, including:

  • Findings of University of Amsterdam physicists and medical researchers which states that small cough droplets, potentially containing virus particles, can float in the air in a room for many minutes, especially when the room is poorly ventilated;
  • The European Center for Disease Control advise to ensure ventilation in the vehicle/wagon/boat at all times, and avoid recirculating air and encourage the use of windows, skylight panels, and fans to increase replacement with fresh air;
  • Thailand’s transport ministry’s instruction to public transport operators to open windows for good air ventilation
  • China’s advice to public transport groups to have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets
  • India’s directive enjoining buses to improve ventilation by increasing the frequency of fresh air intake.

IBON Foundation’s executive director Sonny Africa believes these studies will help the cause of jeepney drivers and operators who have been calling for the lifting of ban to operate amid the enforcement of community quarantine.

“Hindi kailanman matatapatan ng mga enclosed modern jeepneys yung sariwang hangin sa modern jeepney. So para dun lamang tingin namin malaking advantange ng mga tradional jeepney sa mga modernized airconditioned jeepney,” he said.

The DOH, however, said there is still a need to reconfigure traditional open-air jeepneys to meet minimum health standards.

“Napakalaki ng risk sa jeepneys dahil ang kanilang sakay ay face to face hindi katulad doon sa bus parang mga upuan na hindi magkakaharap,” Vergeire said.

Old model of public jeepneys are not yet allowed to resume operations under the general community quarantine, based on the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Modern jeepneys and buses have been allowed to ply the roads again at a limited capacity to accommodate the volume of commuters who have been permitted to return to work amid the crisis.

Malacañang earlier said that the ban on traditional jeepneys may be lifted if the present number of modern jeepneys and buses are insufficient to ferry passengers.

The Department of Transportation also said it is still crafting the guidelines for the resumption of traditional jeepney operations. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City Hall of Justice closed after 4 personnel contract COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Hall of Justice building and its annex will be temporarily shut down after four of its court officers and employees tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the city government announced on Friday.

The city government said Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the closure of the buildings for seven days of until the city’s Epidemiological and Disease Surveillance Unit (QC-ESU) has completed the appropriate testing and containment measures.

In her letter to Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Ace Alagar, Belmonte explained that her decision to temporarily shut down the Hall of Justice is to enforce measures during epidemic or outbreak to prevent spread of disease.

QC-ESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz said they will conduct exhaustive contact tracing of all those who were in close contact with the court officers and employees who were found positive and perform follow-up testing as necessary.

Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases shall be placed on home quarantine or isolation in a quarantine facility as feasible under the circumstances, he added.

Meanwhile, the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) started the thorough surface disinfection and misting of the whole City Hall complex.

The agency said the disinfection began on Thursday and will last until Sunday.

Bolsonaro vetos law on obligatory face masks in Brazil

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

Digital: PART MUST COURTESY BRAZIL PRESIDENCY.

President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.

“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.

Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.

He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.

Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.