MRT-3 operations would be temporarily shut down starting today (Tuesday) until July 11 after more of its personnel had tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Transportation said Monday.
As of July 6, a total 186 MRT personnel were positive for COVID-19. Of the total, 169 personnel came from MRT-3 depot and the remaining 17 from station personnel.
The DOTr said temporary shutdown would be undertaken to give way to RT-PCR (swab) testing of all MRT-3 personnel, including those of its maintenance provider and subcontractors, to prevent further spread of the disease, and, most importantly, to protect the health and safety of both its personnel and commuters.
The Department of Health on Monday advised the public who had contact with the ticket sellers of MRT-3 to check their own health.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in an interview on GMA Network’s Unang Hirit, said authorities would push the contact tracing of passengers who had transactions with the ticket sellers.
READ: MRT reduces capacity after infections rise
Vergeire said the DOH was having talks with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the management of MRT-3 on how they would trace the concerned passengers.
At the same time, Vergeire said the Philippines planned to further expand the testing criteria for COVID-19, as it expected test kits for 10 million people.
The duration of the temporary shutdown is currently for five days, or until July 11, 2020, or until RT-PCR testing confirms a sufficient number of COVID-19 negative personnel to enable resumption of at least limited operations.
“This means that the period of the shutdown may be shortened or extended, depending on the pace and results of RT-PCR testing,” DOTr said.
“This also means that operations will resume even if the number of available personnel can only operate a limited number of train sets at the beginning,” it added.
The RT-PCR testing of MRT-3 personnel will be done by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at the Palacio de Manila swabbing center as well as with the assistance of the Red Cross. Out of MRT-3’s more than 3,200 workforce, it will require at least 1,300 personnel to be able to resume limited operations.
READ: MRT 3 to suspend operations while replacing tracks
Currently, 964 additional negative personnel are required to resume work.
During the temporary shutdown, thorough disinfection of all MRT-3 facilities will be conducted, including its depot, stations, and trains.
To help ferry commuters, the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program will continue with 90 buses and a fixed dispatching interval of every 3 minutes.
In addition, 150 buses will be deployed for the EDSA Busway service, carrying passengers between Monumento and the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITx).
A mini loop will also run between Timog Ave. and Ortigas to service passengers, where shuttle services /mini buses will be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at the curbside.
During this pandemic, the mandate to support the reopening of the economy shall be balanced with the health and safety of the riding public, and of our public transport personnel.
In related developments, the number of police officers infected with COVID-19 was now 902, according to Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa.
In a press briefing at Camp Crame, Gamboa said that of the confirmed cases as of 6 a.m. Monday, there were 479 active cases while 414 have recovered. The death toll stands at nine.
Gamboa said the high number of cases was registered at the National Capital Region Police with 354; Police Regional Office-7 (Central Visayas), 248; the National Support Units, 81; and PRO 4-A (Calabarzon), 69.
“Incidentally, PRO7 posted the 830 suspected cases that are awaiting confirmatory testing,” Gamboa said.
Based on PNP data, there are at least 1,148 policemen who are classified as suspected Covid-19 cases while 726 others are considered as probable cases.
Elsewhere, the main office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-National Police Commission (DILG-Napolcom) in Quezon City was placed under a week-long lockdown, from July 6-12, after an official tested positive for COVID-19.
“As a result, all Napolcom personnel would be on work from home status during the lockdown. To serve the public and clients who will file documents, receiving personnel from the Napolcom Records Section will be stationed at the ground floor of the said center,” the public advisory, signed by Napolcom Commissioner lawyer Rogelio Casurao, read.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III confirmed on Saturday that he tested positive for Covid-19 and is now undergoing treatment.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.