Philippines reports 3,962 new COVID-19 cases, 1-meter physical distancing retained

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-19 16:40:53|Editor: huaxia

MANILA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines surged to 283,460 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,962 new daily cases on Saturday.

The DOH said that the number of recoveries also rose to 209,885 after it reported 1,128 more patients have survived the disease.

The DOH added that 100 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, bringing the death toll to 4,930.

Metro Manila topped the five regions or provinces with the highest number of daily confirmed cases reported on Saturday with 1,440, followed by Bulacan province, north of Manila, 354; Cavite province, south of Manila, 287; Laguna province, south of Manila, 222; and Batangas province, south of Manila, 213.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to retain the one-meter physical distancing in public transportation to reduce virus transmission amid surging cases in the country, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday.

"In addition to physical distancing, the commuting public must adhere to health protocols, such as wearing of face mask, face shield, and no talking and no eating inside the public mode of transport," Roque said in a statement.

The decision came as health experts and government officials crafting the responses to COVID-19 have been debating for days on whether or not to reduce or keep the one-meter distance.

"We shall aggressively comply and strictly enforce the 1-meter physical distancing in all public transport as envisioned and mandated," the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Saturday.

The DOTr started implementing on Sept. 14 a new physical distancing rule in public transport to accommodate more commuters as the lockdown measures are eased and the economy slowly reopens.

From 1 meter, the DOTr reduced the distance to 0.75 meters to increase ridership in buses, trains, planes and vessels.

The DOTr said the distance could be further "optimized" to 0.5 meters after two weeks and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks after that.

However the DOH and other officials in the coronavirus task force opposed the move, warning it could trigger a widespread transmission.

The World Health Organization recommends at least 1-meter distance from each other to limit the spread of COVID-19. Enditem