Health Sec. Francisco Duque III warned on Monday, September 14, that easing the physical distancing measures in public transportation will increase the risk of 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) transmission between commuters.
During the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Duque cited the studies made by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), and the Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID (HPAAC).
The Department of Health (DOH) chief said that the studies show that reducing the allowed physical distance between passengers from one meter to 0.75 meters will result to 686 new COVID-19 infections.
“So if you multiply that by 30 days, you will have about 20,580 cases,” Duque reported during the IATF meeting.
“So iyan ang bagong kaso. If you multiply that by 1.6 which is our case fatality rate, meaning the number of deaths over the number of total infection, ang lalabas po rito will be 3,951 deaths per year,” he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, mentioned that studies conducted by the transport sector show that the reduction will only pose a minimal risk if people will continue to weak face shields and face masks.
“May mga modelling na ginagawa ang mga doktor na sinasabing delikado pero may pag-aaral naman ‘yung mga transport sector na nagpapakita na with face shield and maskara, minimum naman daw ho ‘yung danger,” he shared.
The Palace official also stressed that the DOH officials did not voice their opposition when the IATF approved the recommendation of the Economic Development Cluster, and the Department of Transportation.
“In fairness lang ‘no kasi it was really approved by the IATF pero wala naman objection ‘yung DOH. At nandoon din ako sa meeting wala rin akong narinig na objection,” Roque said during the IATF meeting on Monday.
Duque responded that he did not attend the meeting during which the IATF approved the new physical distancing policy.