A former Department of Health (DOH) secretary expressed support to the move of the Transportation department to ease the physical distancing rule in public transport as long other health measures are strictly carried out.

09142020 LRT ROMERO 2 1024x683 - Ex-DOH chief backs DOTr’s physical distancing rule
(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“What we are saying here, me as a medical person, is that it is possible to go below one meter. It is not dogma. But we have to look at all the packages in the ‘seven commandments’ for its proper implementation,” said former DOH chief Dr. Manuel Dayrit in an interview over ANC Thursday morning.

The so-called “seven commandments” proposed by a group of health experts led by Dayrit are as follows:

  1. Wearing of proper face masks
  2. Wearing of face shields
  3. No talking and no eating
  4. Adequate ventilation
  5. Frequent and proper disinfection
  6. No symptomatic passengers
  7. Appropriate physical distancing

The easing of physical distancing rules would be possible if the other interventions are followed, said Dayrit.

“Many of the observational studies were done using these single interventions…What we are saying is, combine them,” said Dayrit.

“Take this as a package. It is not just the one-meter social distancing which is at issue here, we have to implement the total package. And if we do that, we will have great potential to reduce physical distancing; and follow your policy of wanting to open up the economy,” he added.

Last Tuesday, a group of healthcare professionals led by Dayrit said that they understand the need to revitalize the country’s economy.

“We need to emerge from the current recession that has severely impacted livelihoods. This will enable our countrymen to work again, so that they can feed their families and support their communities. The economic enablement of Filipinos translates to their health and welfare,” they said in a statement.

“However, we cannot build back the economy without increasing public transport capacity, which has been operating at only 20 to 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels due to understandable fears of outbreaks arising from congested public transport spaces,” they added.

The group said that by “imposing these strict measures, we believe we can gradually relax social distancing rules, in order to double or even triple our current public transport capacity, without compromising public health.”

To note, the Department of Transportation decided to ease physical distance between commuters inside public vehicles from one-meter to 0.75 meter in order to accommodate more passengers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining a one meter distance from other people.

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