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DoH opposes easing of physical distancing





The Department of Health (DoH) has warned that the relaxation of physical distancing in public transportation could lead to at least 686 additional coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases daily.

This was underscored by DoH Secretary Francisco Duque III as he cited a study from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC), during a meeting with President Duterte on Monday night, September 14.

“Sinasabi nila kung babawasan from one meter to 0.75, and at a 50 percent ridership, in other words, ang pasasakayin singkuwenta porsyento ng population ‘no dito sa NCR – new cases everyday will reach 686 per day,” said Duque.

“So if you multiply that by 30 days, you will have about 20,580 cases, ito po per day po ‘yan,” he added.

The health chief said that he will present the study of the AIM and HPAAC during the meeting of the Interagency Task Force that focuses on the COVID-19 response.

In fact, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, a HPAAC member, said on Tuesday, the relaxation of physical distancing measures in public transportation is not advisable at the moment amid the high number of COVID-19 cases being reported daily.

“Currently, because we still have a high number of cases being reported that the new recommendations for physical distancing might not be well-advise and perhaps we should wait until we have less cases so that any impact we observed, particularly if it leads to an increase in the number of cases, will not lead to increased healthcare utilization… because it is currently quite stretched already,” said Ong-Lim, during an interview over ANC.

Ong-Lim said that there is a “need to provide better, safer, more public transportation because otherwise it would be very difficult to open up the economy.” (Analou de Vera)