Thursday, June 24, 2021

Rise in mobility ‘to likely raise’ Covid-19 cases

POSSIBLE OUTCOME. Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health 7 spokesperson, says the return of more public utility vehicles on the streets of Cebu City raises the possibility of an increase in coronavirus transmissions “for the simple reason that because of the ease of transport, people’s movement becomes less hampered, which, in turn, increases activities. (Alex Badayos)

THE return of more public utility vehicles (PUVs) on the streets will surely have an impact on the possibility of increasing viral transmissions.

This is “for the simple reason that because of the ease of transport, people’s movement becomes less hampered, which, in turn, increases activities,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson.

In Cebu City, 19 traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJs) were given the go-signal to start plying the roads again on Friday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Loreche said the best way to look at this development is to approach it in a two-pronged manner.

Drivers must be tested regularly for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), she said, while public health measures must be strictly implemented to ensure the safety of the riding public.

Eduardo Montealto, Jr., Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 director, sought the help of local government units to see to it that healthy measures are in place.

“The LTFRB 7 or the Land Transportation Office 7 cannot do it alone,” he said in Cebuano.

He also urged commuters to practice self-discipline and to be mindful of minimum health protocols when inside PUVs, noting the need to revive the economy while trying to prevent a resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

He said public utility buses (PUBs) will continue to operate in Cebu City, adding that his office will allow a mix mode of transportation to serve the growing number of passengers.

“Our inter-island borders have yet to reopen. That is why we cannot deploy them back there yet,” he said in Cebuano.

A total of 172 PUBs currently serve Cebu City.

He said a number of PUV drivers have already been reprimanded and penalized for failing to implement health protocols. He, however, failed to provide the exact number of violators.

On Friday, Nov. 20, the DOH 7 recorded 55 new cases in Central Visayas, bringing the total number of active cases to 1,221.

Cebu City and Cebu Province both have a total of 343 active Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the business community in Cebu expects the return of TPUJs to spur more economic activity that will help Covid-hit enterprises to recover faster.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam urged commuters to practice minimum health standards to prevent a possible resurgence in cases.

“Mass transport is a very important component of our economic recovery program. Despite the fielding of buses and modern jeepneys in the past few months, jeepneys have always been the means of transport,” Taguiam said.

Rey Calooy, Filipino-Cebuano Business Club chairman, said payments in TPUJs should be “contactless.”

“We hope the IATF (Inter-Agency Task ForcE) trained or held seminars for drivers on the new normal, especially on receiving money from passengers. Physical money is also a source of spreading the virus,” he said.

Calooy urged financial technology companies like Gcash and others to provide drivers with digital wallets for a cashless mode of payment. (WBS, JOB)


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