The Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has started to limit the deployment of trains as the number of its personnel who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rose to 186.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Rails Timothy John Batan said that as of 6 p.m., Sunday, there were already 186 MRT-3 staff infected with COVID-19.
According to Batan, the infected personnel include the 169 staff from its depot, 12 station personnel, three train drivers, and two from the operations control center.
Batan said that of the total numbers of employees who tested positive for COVID-19, only two have developed symptoms, while the rest are asymptomatic.
“Nung mababa pa ang bilang ng kaso, nagbigay na ng directive ang IATF na magsagawa ng swab testing. Isinagawa natin ito sa lahat ng empleyado, kasama ang mga empleyado mula sa service provider at ‘yan ang dahilan kung bakit nakikita natin agad kung sino ang mga nagpositive (When the cases are still low, the IATF already gave a directive to implement a mass swab testing which we conducted on all our employees, including those from our service provider. That was the reason why we are already seeing the number of those who are positive),” he added.
The DOTr official also said that based on their contact tracing, the latest infected personnel had no contact with the depot workers who were among the first to test positive for the disease last month.
“So far, base sa ating contact tracing, walang contact ang mga infected station personnel sa ating mga depot personnel. Kaya maaaring ‘yung infection ay nakuha mula sa labas ng MRT-3 (So far, based on our contact tracing, the infected station personnel had no contact with the depot personnel. So they could have caught the infection outside the MRT-3),” Batan said.
Batan said the MRT-3 management decided to reduce the line’s operations beginning Monday to only 11 train sets from the 16 to 19 trains since it resumed ferrying passengers on June 1.
“Isa ito sa mga ginawa nating safety measure kasi yung mga empleyado natin, lalo na sa maintenance na nag-positive ay naka-quarantine. Yung mga empleyado natin na nagswab test at hinihintay ang resulta ay naka-quarantine din (This is one of the safety measures that we are enforcing as many of our employees, especially those from the maintenance department who are infected are undergoing quarantine. All personnel who also took swab testing and awaiting confirmatory results are also on quarantine),” Batan explained.
The MRT-3 management said that it continues to intensify its health and safety protocols to ensure the welfare of the riding public and employees such as the mandatory wearing of full personal protective equipment of all MRT-3 personnel, increased disinfection activities, limitation of movement and physical distancing, and deployment of transport marshals and roving safety officers.
“The DOTr and MRT-3 remain fully committed to protect the overall welfare of its passengers and employees. Thus, we assure you that all necessary measures will be strictly and constantly enforced, for everyone’s safety,” the DOTr said.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said it would be hard to suspend the operations of MRT-3 despite the rising number of personnel being infected by COVID-19 because it is one of the modes of transportation used by the people amid the pandemic.
The infection situation, however, is concerning, the Palace said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the DOTr reported on Sunday that the number of MRT-3 personnel that caught the diseases reached 172.
In his Monday presser, Roque stressed the need to provide the public transportation so they can go to work.
“Habang tayo po ay nagbubukas ng ekonomiya, kinakailangan talaga nating palawigin pa yung ating public transportation dahil hindi naman makakarating sa trabaho yung mga magtratrabaho na (While we are opening the economy, we need to expand our public transportation or else workers won’t get to their jobs),” he said.
“It’s a matter of disinfecting the MRTs. Kung maayos na po yung mga sigalot sa technical operations, pupuwede naman pong bumalik yan sa 50 percent capacity (If the issue on technical operations will be fixed soon, then the trains can operate at 50 percent capacity again),” he added. (With a report from Argyll B. Geducos)