- 12th straight day with over 3k new cases
- Cemetery guidelines readied
As the number of positive cases in the country continues to rise, President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to retain the one-meter physical distancing for public transportation while Metro Manila mayors establish guidelines for cemetery visits following the government order to close all memorial parks and columbariums nationwide during Undas as a precaution against the pandemic.
On Saturday, the country logged 3,962 new COVID-19 cases – the 12th consecutive day that over 3,000 fresh infections were reported – bringing the total number to 283,460.
The Department of Health also reported 100 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,930.
“The decision of the President is that the one-meter social distancing will stay in public transportations,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
Aside from the wearing of mask and face shield, Roque said commuters must also observe the “no speaking, no eating” rule inside public utility vehicles.
The one-meter physical distancing was supposed to be gradually reduced to 0.75 meters beginning Sept. 14 until it is shortened to 0.3 meters by Oct. 12, but the move was put on hold following warnings from medical experts that it would increase the risk of virus transmission.
“The President has spoken. We shall aggressively comply and strictly enforce the 1-meter physical distancing in all public transport as envisioned and mandated,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier warned the plan to shorten the physical distancing requirement in public transportation could lead to an additional 686 coronavirus cases every day.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., however, warned against risk aversion, noting that virus transmission will remain low for as long as passengers will not remove their masks and will avoid talking and eating.
Duque cited a study conducted by the Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID which showed that reducing the one meter requirement to 0.75 meter, at a 50 percent ridership capacity, will lead to 20,580 additional cases per month.
“If you multiply that by 1.6 percent, that’s our case fatality rate, that will be 3,951 (additional) deaths per year,” the Health chief added.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila Council chairman Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said the 30-percent capacity will be strictly imposed inside cemeteries.
“We will have marshals together with our Philippine National Police to enforce physical distancing protocols and prevent gatherings inside cemeteries prior to their closure during Undas,” Olivarez said.
In Makati City, police arrested 34 individuals, including foreign nationals, for violating health and safety protocols during a drinking session in a rooftop bar late Friday evening.
Joint elements from the Southern Police District and Makati City Police Station conducted the police operation following a tip triggered by a Facebook live video of individuals eating and drinking at the Kartel Rooftop Bar in Barangay Poblacion.