MANILA, Philippines – Several commuters complained of limited entry to Metro Rail Transit Line 3 stations on Friday morning, March 13, as the MRT3 management conducted a dry run of social distancing on the train to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In a Twitter post, MRT3 said that it was “already implementing” social distancing in its stations and trains, following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte on containing the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Responding to reporters, MRT3 Director for Operations Michael Capati clarified that what happened at the stations on Friday morning was merely a “simulation.”
“This is just a simulation in preparation for social distancing while we are waiting for the official guidelines,” Capati said in a mix of Filipino and English.
The Philippines declared a “community quarantine” – which in effect is similar to a lockdown – in Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14 to contain the spread of COVID-19. The government has yet to finalize the guidelines on this.
As of Thursday, the Philippines had 52 coronavirus patients, mostly in Metro Manila. Five of the COVID-19 patients died, 3 of them just on Thursday, when Duterte approved the resolution on the lockdown and other recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.
Commuters have posted photos of their morning commute on Twitter, showing train coaches that were not packed, contrary to their usual experience.
See more of them below:
– with reports from Gaby Baizas/Rappler.com