COVID-19, Enhanced Community Quarantine, Transportation
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COVID-19, Enhanced Community Quarantine, Transportation

Romar Fernando

March 18, 2020

  • Since December 2019, the novel coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China, it has been a major health and economic problem of almost all the countries around the world.

    As of this writing, COVID-19 has infected 155 countries and regions across the globe namely China, Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, South Korea, France, United States, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Japan and many more, including the Philippines.

    The significant discoveries on those early detection days were the confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus and the different policies to bring like mandatory health checks, mandatory land, air and sea travel suspensions and community quarantines or lockdowns.

     

    COVID-19 IN THE PHILIPPINES

    It was January 30, 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed by Department of Health secretary, Dr. Francisco Duque III. And as of this writing, there are 202 confirmed cases, 17 of which died and 7 have recovered so far.

    On March 12, 2020, the Philippine government declared a mandatory “community quarantine” in the Metropolitan Manila as a preventive measure against the virus. It is announced to start by 12:01 AM of Sunday, March 15, 2020.

    Checkpoints across borders of Metro Manila and adjacent provinces were enforced with exemptions to workforce and frontlines.

    With the alarming reports of additional cases and chaos made by inconsistencies on policies, the government enforced “enhanced community quarantine” over the whole island of Luzon on March 16, 2020 until April 14, 2020.

    ENHANCED COMMUNITY QUARANTINE

    As of March 18, 2020, the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) against COVID-19 had revised their existing guidelines with regards to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

    The suspension of mass transportation including LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3 and Philippine National Railways, UV Express vans, public utility vehicles (including the point-to-point system, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles), transport network vehicle service and motorcycle taxis remains in effect. Those working in hospitals, doctors and nurses; those working in the government as front liners; are exempted with the scheme. Consequently, local government units (LGUs) are expected to assist those exempted through shuttle services.

    This current system of suspending mass transportation got numerous complains most especially from health workers and frontliners who do not have the means.

    The general rule is to stay at home. Residents who wish to go out and use their private vehicles to buy necessities are allowed only if they subject themselves to health inspections on checkpoints. Only one person from the family can go out of their residence. Social distancing will be strictly implemented on establishments.

    Checkpoints will still undergo inspections on every borders of every city.

     

    SHUTTLE SERVICES FOR HEALTH WORKERS AND FRONT LINERS

    Fortunately, by the morning of Wednesday, March 18, different government agencies administered the operations of shuttle services from several points of origin to different hospitals around Metro Manila.

    The Office of the Vice President led the operation of buses plying across the metropolitan with six different routes:

    [A] ANNOUNCEMENT: Nagsimula nang bumiyahe muli ang free shuttle service ng OVP mula sa mga end points nito, maliban…

    Posted by VP Leni Robredo on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

     

    1. Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang to Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center via Osmeña Highway and Taft Avenue, Manila to traverse along Philippine General Hospital.
    2. Heritage Hotel along EDSA Extension to MRT- Quezon Avenue Station via Manila that will traverse Philippine General Hospital, UST Hospital, United Doctors Medical Center and Philippine Orthopedic Center.
    3. SM Mall of Asia in Pasay to Sta. Lucia East Grandmall in Cainta, Rizal via EDSA, Aurora Boulevard and Marcos Highway that will traverse Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Katipunan Avenue.
    4. EDSA Extension near Macapagal Boulevard to LRT 1- Monumento Station via EDSA that will traverse East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines and Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
    5. SM Fairview to LRT- Central Station in Manila via Commonwealth Avenue and Quezon Memorial Circle that will traverse East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Orthopedic Center, United Doctors Medical Center, and UST Hospital.
    6. LRT 1- Balintawak Station to Heritage Hotel via EDSA

    The shuttle services are available for pick up four times a day: one back and forth schedule in the morning, 6:00 AM from the point of origin and 11:30 AM at the end point; another back and forth schedule in the afternoon, 2:00 PM from the point of origin and 5:00 PM at the end point.

    On the same day, the Department of Transportation released a statement that the agency will deploy buses to ferry health workers and frontliners with free of charge. In the evening of March 18, the  DOTr expanded their free bus rides into nine routes.

    The routes are as follows:

    1. Malanday to United Doctors Medical Center in Quezon City via Manila that will traverse along hospitals namely: Valenzuela City General Hospital, Tondo General Hospital, Metropolitan Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, University of Sto. Tomas Hospital and Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center.
    2. Valenzuela Gateway Complex to United Doctors Medical Center via Quezon City that will traverse Quezon City General Hospital and Philippine Orthopedic Center.
    3. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium in Caloocan City to MRT- Quezon Avenue Station via Novaliches and Commonwealth Avenue that will traverse along hospitals namely: Diliman Doctors Hospital, Veterans Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, East Avenue Medical Center and Philippine Children’s Hospital.
    4. SM Masinag in Antipolo to The Medical City in Pasig City via Marikina and Pasig that will traverse along Marikina Valley Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center.
    5. Ortigas Hospital and Healthcare in Cainta, Rizal to Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City via Ortigas Avenue Extension that will traverse along the hospitals namely: Pasig City General Hospital, The Medical City-Ortigas, VRP Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center-BGC
    6. MRT-Quezon Avenue Station to MRT-Cubao Station via Quezon Avenue and Aurora Blvd. that will traverse along hospitals namely: Providence Hospital, Capitol Medical Center, United Doctors Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital, Delos Santos Medical Center and St. Lukes Medical Center in Quezon City.
    7. The Medical City in Pasig City to Makati Medical Center via San Juan City and Makati City that will traverse through Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and Sta. Ana Hospital.
    8. Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang to St. Luke’s Medical Center-BGC via Osmeña Highway and Makati City that will traverse along hospitals namely: Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Muntinlupa City Hospital and Makati Medical Center.
    9. Vista Mall Daang Hari to United Doctors Medical Center in Quezon City via Pasay, Makati and Manila that will traverse along hospitals namely: Perpetual Help Medical Center, Las Piñas General Hospital, San Juan de Dios Educational Medical Center, Pasay City General Hospital, Adventist Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital and Manila Doctors Hospital.

    In line with this initiative, Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine Coast Guard and JAC Liner Inc., announced that their respective agencies will mobilize their free bus service for health workers. DPWH will pass through the same routes stated by DOTr.

    NO SHUTDOWN OF EXPRESSWAYS

    On early March 17, Tuesday, DPWH Sec. Villar clarified that expressways in Luzon will remain open and operational but checkpoints will be situated in several exits to secure the people’s safety against COVID-19.


    AVIATION PROTOCOLS

    On March 18, the Department of Transportation has revised and updated their policies on international and domestic airports in Luzon.

    The national government has lifted the 72-hour ultimatum to travelers of international flights. All persons, with exceptions to Filipino tourists, will be allowed to fly out of the country anytime. On the counterpart, all international passengers are allowed to enter the country as well.

    Passengers from Italy and Iran are required to bring with them medical certificates of good health validated by their respective embassies. Sweeper flights for foreigners are allowed.

    To those accompanying their relatives to airports, the DOTr continually reminds that only one person is allowed and he or she must depart immediately after drop off. Drivers must secure a copy of airline ticket of his or her passenger.

    For complete details of these arrangements, you may visit the social media accounts of the Department of Transportation.

     

    Everyone, not just the government, but the whole world, is asking for our full cooperation. What is essential is to hamper unnecessary movements and social distancing on everything we do. This is to fight or at least alleviate the spread and effects of this coronavirus. Stay safe and sound!

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