Sunday, September 19, 2021

Open windows key to keeping delta variant at bay

SunStar File

GOOD ventilation is vital in stemming the tide of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases amid the presence of the highly transmissible delta variant on Cebu’s shores.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health (DOH) 7 chief pathologist, was quoting Professor Raina MacIntyre’s interview on Guardian Australia.

MacIntyre is an expert in infectious disease outbreaks.

Loreche said Covid particles can linger in the air in aerosolized form for up to 16 hours, which is why ventilation is vital.

“In an indoor space where ventilation isn’t adequate, somebody with the infection could have come and gone, but the virus is still lingering in the air. So if you walk through that area and you breathe that air, you could get infected,” Loreche said.

Loreche advised people who have people coming over to their house to open their windows.

“Air-conditioned areas are not the norm anymore, but al fresco is,” she said, while reminding the public to wear their face masks properly.

In line with this, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 issued guidelines for proper ventilation inside public utility vehicles (PUVs) on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.

LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said drivers of buses and modernized public utility jeepneys with fixed windows must keep vehicle doors open.

Drivers of any PUVs can also choose to switch off the air-conditioning of their vehicles and open all windows or doors, he said.

He said violators can face a penalty of P5,000.

Drivers of sedans should open the vehicles’ windows at least two inches, while windows of passenger vans must be opened.

A sedan “is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo.”

In Mandaue City, members of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team) have apprehended 110 PUV drivers for not complying with social distancing of passengers and the imposed seat capacity since the city was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second most stringent quarantine level, on Sunday, Aug. 1.

Team executive director Edwin Jumao-as said they’ve been conducting random checkpoints between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. since Sunday.

He said they go after drivers and operators of PUVs, such as buses, modern jeepneys, traditional jeepneys and taxis, who fail to enforce minimum health guidelines set by the LTFRB 7 for local government units under MECQ.

He said they apprehended 35 drivers on Aug. 1, 50 drivers on Aug. 2 and 25 drivers on Aug. 3.

Most of the violators are drivers of modern jeepneys who do not enforce social distancing, he said, adding that passengers should sit one seat apart regardless of plastic barriers.

The penalty is P500.

Meanwhile, Jumao-as urged PUV operators to provide face shields to passengers in case they forget to bring one.

He said some modern jeepney operators have adopted this practice.

Jumao-as said he sent a letter to all PUV operators in the city regarding drivers who repeatedly violate quarantine protocols.

He confirmed that there are a lot of PUV drivers who are “repeat offenders.”

He said their most common excuse is they cannot control passengers who board their vehicles, which results in overloading.

However, Jumao-as said a driver whose vehicle is already “full” should not stop to pick up a passenger.

Jumao-as instructed Team enforcers and supervisors on the field to jot down the name of the company or the cooperative of erring drivers so they can track these violators and inform their operators.

He also urged passengers not to get on PUVs that have exceeded their capacity. (WBS, KFD)


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