January 3, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation DOTr will conduct random antigen tests on consenting passengers of the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit System (LRT) as Metro Manila again faces a rise in COVID-19 cases.
The move, which the DOTr announced on its Facebook page on Sunday, is part of an order issued by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for rail systems to enforce strict health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 after the national government placed Metro Manila under a stricter Alert Level 3.
“The random antigen testing of consenting and volunteering passengers is intended to guide us in the adoption of any further needed measures,” Transportation Undersecretary Timothy Batan said.
“Passengers who volunteer to be tested will be permitted to proceed with their trip after testing, and will be informed of their test results by text message,” he added.
Train capacity to remain at 70 percent
Meanwhile, Tugade said: “As recommended by our railways sector, all rail lines will maintain the present 70% passenger capacity under the Alert Level 3 status, provided that strict health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be enforced.”
“This is to avoid the ‘bottlenecking’ or crowding of passengers at stations, which may increase the risk of virus transmission,” he added.
Any adjustments or changes in the passenger capacity of rail lines, as well as in other modes of public transportation, will be subject to the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Tugade said.
The DOTr will assign train marshals to enforce the health protocols on trains and in stations.
The DOTr also said that it has required all rail personnel to undergo antigen testing, with physical reporting limited to 60 percent.
It would also verify the vaccination and booster status of all rail workers.
Malacañang attributed the rise in COVID-19 cases to the increased mobility during the holiday season and the presence of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.
As of this writing, the Department of Health has recorded 14 people infected with the Omicron variant.