DEPARTMENT of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo M. Año both maintained yesterday their preference to stick to a one-meter distance in all public transport system in the country to better fight the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The two literally disagreed with the decision of Department of Public Transport Sec. Arthur Tugade to recommend the lifting of the one-meter distance rule in the Metro Railway and Light Railway Transit stations as well as passenger buses which have caught the ire of medical experts as well as the general public which is fearing a relaxed distancing rule in public transport will make them more vulnerable to the unseen killer virus.
The Inter-Agency Task Force decision to gradually reduce the physical distance between passengers riding trains and buses have become controversial with many opposed to it.
Speaking to newsmen at Camp Crame, both Duque and Año emphasized that the ‘one-meter distance’ in mass transport system is based on science and is in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) protocols to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Both emphasized the fact that Filipinos observing the 1-meter distance rule when riding public transport and at the same time wearing their face masks and face shields will help them increase their protection against the virus.
The DILG chief even said that the ‘one-meter distance is non-negotiable.”
“Puwede nating buksan ang ekonomiya para naman lumago, pero para sa akin non-negotiable ang minimum health standard na one-meter distance sapagkat ‘yan ay base sa siyensiya, base ‘yan sa pag-aaral ng mga dalubha,” he explained.
Duque maintained that the one-meter rule is really vital in helping prevent the transmission of the virus. The DOH chief said that as a general rule in physical distancing, “the farther you go, the more effective the risk reduction and the better the protection made against COVID-19.”
He said that a one-meter distance eliminates the possibility of transferring or contaminating someone by 81 percent while a two-meter distance can go up to 91 percent. A 3-meter distance is much better since it eliminates the possibility of catching the virus by as much as 96 percent, Sec. Duque added.
Last Monday, the DoTR reduced the current one-meter distance among commuters to 0.75. Sec. Tugade said that it t could be further reduced to 0.5 meters after two weeks, and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks depending on the result of the reduced distance among passengers.