‘Very low’ chance of virus infection in air-conditioned vehicle if with mask, seated apart

Bonz Magsambol
‘Very low’ chance of virus infection in air-conditioned vehicle if with mask, seated apart
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterates the importance of following health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in shared vehicles


MANILA, Philippines – What are the chances that you will contract COVID-19 in an air-conditioned vehicle?

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire that as long as people wear masks and observe physical distancing, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in an air-conditioned vehicle is “very low.”

“As long as you wear your mask, as long as you are distant from the person next to you, I think the possibility and probability of getting infected is very low,”  Vergeire said during a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, June 23. 

Vergeire reminded the public that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through droplets.

“If you would prefer na wala kayong aircon sa kotse (not to turn on your aircon), that’s up to you. But as we say right now, it is through droplet infection,” Vergeire said. 

As of April 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that COVID-19 is not airborne and is mainly transmitted through droplets. 

There are studies that suggested that airborne transmission of the disease is possible, but none of them are conclusive. 

The DOH earlier said that airborne transmission only applies to a “hospital setting.” (WATCH: EXPLAINER: Can you contract coronavirus disease just by touching surfaces?)

While there is still no conclusive study about the disease being airborne, health experts recommend avoiding busy public indoor spaces to reduce the risk of infection. 

According to the government coronavirus task force guidelines, private cars, taxis, and transport network vehicles should only accommodate 4 passengers at a time, including the driver, and observe the minimum health standards prescribed by the DOH while under community quarantine. (READ: GABAY: Bilang ng pasahero sa pampublikong sasakyan sa ilalim ng GCQ)

The discussion on the transmission of COVID-19 resurfaced as groups have been calling the government to allow traditional open-air jeepneys to operate while under community quarantine, saying that it is “likely even safer against COVID-19 than its air-conditioned modernized counterpart.”

As of Monday, the Philippines recorded 30,682 cases of coronavirus, including 1,177 deaths and 8,143 recoveries. – Rappler.com 

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.