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Medical experts reject reduced social distancing in public transport


Now is not the time for the government to ease social distancing restrictions in public transport, the Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) underscored on Monday.

According to Raffy Tima’s report on “24 Oras,” the HPAAC said the reduction of physical distancing in public utility vehicles will negatively impact the country’s fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“‘Pag titingnan natin ang curve ng pandemic na ito, masyadong maaga pa at malamang na dumami lalo ang kaso at bumagal ang recovery natin kung gawin natin ito ngayon,” Dr. Antonio Miguel Dans said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier approved a proposal to reduce social distancing in public transport from the 1 meter recommended by the World Health Organization to 0.3 meters by October. 

The HPAAC said it relayed its opposition to the easing of social distancing rules to the IATF and also provided the government with a model to monitor the effects of reduced distancing on the country’s COVID-19 infections.

“‘Yung model na ‘yan kailangan lagyan no’ng pinakabagong datos… Binigay namin ‘yung model at ‘yung mga maglalagay ng final data doon sa model, sila rin,” Dans said.

The HPAAC also reminded the public to open windows of public transport vehicles, avoid talking, and wear their face masks and shields properly.

“Kung talagang bibiyahe kayo, hanapin niyo ‘yung oras na maluwag. Huwag kayong sumabay sa rush hour, hayaan na natin ‘yung rush hour para sa mga tao na kailangang magtrabaho,” Dans said.

“Hindi pa nawawala ang virus. Na-flatten man ‘yung curve kung magpapabaya tayo, babalik ‘yan. Nag-aantay lang para magpakalat ulit so I think the thing that people need to remember is we don’t let our guards down,” Dr. Anna Ong-Lim added.

Experts from the University of the Philippines-OCTA Research team likewise urged the government to reconsider the reduction of social distancing. 

The Philippines has recorded 265,888 confirmed cases as of Monday afternoon.—Julia Mari Ornedo/LDF, GMA News