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  • MRT3 management reported 172 of its employees contracted COVID-19.
    PHOTO BY Jerome Ascano

    We know COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, is contagious, and it spreads very quickly (remember there are even super-spreaders). How we get coronavirus disease has never been an easy answer, but scientists say the reality is coronavirus may be transmitted airborne. 

    In a July 4 report, The New York Times (NYT) says 239 scientists from 32 countries sent the World Health Organization (WHO) an open letter that laid out evidence of what they have been saying for months: “The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby.”

    In the paper titled, “It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of Covid-19,” the scientists are calling WHO to revise its recommendations on coronavirus.

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    If the coronavirus is airborne (it can be transmitted through aerosols and stay in the air), we need to avoid crowded spaces unless we are secure with its ventilation. We have to wear face masks in offices or any indoor space we are unsure of, even if it has social distancing measures. Our frontliners will need N95 masks to “filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients.”

    The NYT article continues, “Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences, and businesses may need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.”

    WHO still maintains that “evidence for the virus spreading by air was unconvincing.”

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    Airborne transmission can help explain why COVID-19 spreads rapidly, making it tough for countries like the Philippines to flatten the curve.

    The Department of Health reported a new record-high of COVID-19 cases last July 5, 2020 — 2,434 new cases — breaching the 44,000-mark. GCQ was enforced in Metro Manila on June 1. (Less than a month when we reported this number, as of July 31, DOH reported more than 4,000 new cases, bringing the total to 93,354 cases.) 

    On July 5 as well, Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3) management reported 172 of its employees contracted COVID-19. Inquirer reported the personnel involved four ticket sellers: two from the Cubao station, one at the North Avenue station, and one on reserve status. The rest of the cases were a nurse, a train driver, and 166 depot personnel.

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    It was not evident in the reports whether these employees contracted the virus at work. But according to Inquirer, MRT-3 personnel are now required to submit health declaration forms twice a day to lower the risk of the spread of coronavirus within its workforce.

    Inquirer adds, “MRT-3 trains are also subjected to a ‘5-minute disinfection hustle' every half loop (at the end stations at the North Ave. Station and Taft Station). For the convenience of train commuters and personnel, disinfection stations with disinfectants are also distributed in both the MRT-3 Depot and at the MRT-3 stations.”

    The takeaway? It’s better to be safe than sorry. Avoid crowded spaces. If you must go outside, continue wearing masks and perform regular handwashing. Stay home if you have a cough, headache, or mild fever. And if you are not sick but you can work from home, stay there.

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