A group of healthcare professionals has requested the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases to reconsider the implementation of the reduced physical distancing in public transport.

09142020 LRT ROMERO 1024x683 - Healthcare group asking IATF to reconsider reduced physical distancing in public transport
(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dr. Anna Ong-Lim from the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) said their group has submitted a modeling data which could help the government monitor the possible effects of a reduced physical distancing.

“The model includes some assumptions about the transmissions from symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, as well as the number of cases in the community and the transmission that can be expected if a person has a 100% compliance with the personal protective equipment that we recommend as a standard like face masks and face shields,” Lim told ANC on Tuesday.

Lim said they are seeing “hundreds of cases increasing” because of the recommendation of 0.75 physical distancing instead of that one-meter standard.

This number, however, can change according to Lim.

Lim said the government should reconsider the implementation of a reduced physical distancing “until more reliable information could be obtained.”

The medical expert said a two-week period would not be enough to see the effects of the new measure since it also takes about two weeks before somebody exposed to the virus starts showing symptoms.

“Maybe we’re talking about looking at data for over a month period but the problem is, by then, it could’ve been quite difficult to catch up already should there have been any adverse consequences,” she added.

Lim also suggested that the government consider other options such as providing more vehicles, staggering work hours, utilization of alternative modes of transport, rather than “contravening something that is already a standard globally.”

When asked about what level can the country afford to ease restrictions, like distancing measures, Lim said: “If we work on the current figures and we’re talking about an increase of numbers in the hundreds then maybe with about half of the current number then any increase will be more manageable.”

Lim reiterated that HPAAC does not advise the optimization of psychical distancing in public transportation given the high number of cases still being reported in the country.

“We should wait until we have less cases so that any impact we observe particularly if it leads in a number of cases, will not lead to increase of care utilization because it’s currently quite stretched already,” she said.

HPAAC spokesperson, Dr. Antonio Dans, in a separate interview with PTV earlier, also said it’s still too early to ease restrictions in the country.

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