MANILA, Philippines — Health chief Francisco Duque III said a longer social distance between individuals is better prevention against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as he opposed the relaxed physical distancing protocols in public utility vehicles (PUVs).
“Sinusuportahan natin ang one-meter distancing. Ito ang tinawag nating minimum health standards. Minimum. Sa ibang bansa four meters pa. In fact, the farther you are, the more effective the risk reduction and the better protection rate,” Duque said in a press conference at Bida Disiplina event at Camp Crame, Quezon City, reacting on the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) easing of social distancing in PUVs.
(We support the one-meter distancing. This is what we call the minimum health standard. In other countries, they follow four meters. In fact, the farther, the more effective risk reduction and the better the protection rate.)
“In one-meter distance, you are going to reduce the risk of getting the virus or transferring or contaminating someone by 81 percent and at two meters distancing, that can go all the way up to 91 percent and in fact, three meters, 96 percent,” he added.
The country’s top health official also noted that the one-meter distance rule is recommended by the World Health Organization and other large associations of professional medical societies.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, meanwhile, said the physical distancing rule is “non-negotiable” as the one-meter rule is backed by scientific studies.
“Puwede nating buksan ang ekonomiya para naman lumago, pero para sa akin non-negotiable ang minimum health standard na one-meter distance sapagkat ‘yan ay base sa siyensiya. Base ‘yan sa pagaaral ng mga dalubhasa…” he said.
(We can revive the economy but for me, it is non-negotiable, the minimum health standard of one-meter distance because it is based on science. It is based on the studies of experts.)
Nevertheless, Año said they will leave it to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide if the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will be allowed to continue shortening the social distance between commuters inside PUVs to boost ridership.
Duterte is expected to decide on the DOTr’s new physical distancing rule in PUvs on Thursday.
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