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Gov’t urged: Increase public transportation capacity




Amid the new social distancing rules being implemented inside mass public transportation in the metro, a group of health experts has recommended instead the increase in public transportation capacity in the country but under strict social distancing measures as a win-win solution to prop up the economy and give livelihood to millions of Filipinos.

The group — led by former health secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit and Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., dean of the University of the Philippines-Manila College of Public Health, has submitted recommendations to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The group urged the government to increase public transportation supply including rail, bus, jeepney and motorcycle taxis while easing social distancing rules under strict health protocols.

It also noted that consultation with the private medical community, including the Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) being a part of the technical working group, must be done before the IATF releases policy.

“While the efforts of the IATF, the Department of Health, and the One Hospital Command to address the COVID-19 pandemic have successfully increased and improved current hospital capacity, there is now an urgent need to revitalize our country,” the medical experts said in a position paper.

“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 added.

The group stressed that the Philippine economy cannot be rebuilt without increasing public transportation capacity, which has been operating at only 20 to 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

“We write this statement as an expert panel of doctors with diverse backgrounds, including public health, epidemiology and infectious diseases, all with the intention of seeing our country get back on its feet as safely as possible,” they added.