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Coronavirus on Public Transportation - Guidelines to Follow

Coronavirus on Public Transportation - Guidelines to Follow

Now that we are slowly opening the economy by allowing various businesses to operate, the need for public transport increases as well. Little by little, the government is finally allowing buses, trains, and jeepneys to take passengers. For a crowded place like Metro Manila, commuting safely is even more challenging. With the threat of the coronavirus on public transportation, what can you do to protect yourself?

What Can We Do for the Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreaks?

DOH’s Minimum Health Standards in Public Transport

To slow down the spread of the coronavirus on public transportation, the DOH has issued the Minimum Health Standards. In these standards, the DOH advises the public to:

  • Avoid unnecessary contact with possibly contaminated surfaces. If possible, use tissue paper to hold objects while riding public transport.
  • Frequently clean the hands with 70% alcohol especially after touching surfaces inside the vehicle.
  • Wear a face mask which properly covers the nose and chin at all times along with a face shield, and avoid touching your face or readjusting the mask.
  • Use a disposable tissue paper when coughing or sneezing

Additionally, the Department of Health also reiterates the importance of planning to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on public transportation.

  • Do not take public transportation during the rush hour when there’s an influx of commuters.
  • Do not take public transport if you’re feeling sick. If you’re planning to go to the hospital, try to commute during the “downtime” when only a few people are commuting.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the other passengers.
  • To limit contact, load your travel cards or pay using your credit cards or mobile apps.

One important thing to note is that these are minimum health standards. In other words, you can level up these practices to lessen the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus on public transportation.

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Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of the Coronavirus on Public Transportation

Whether you are on the bus, jeepney, or tricycle, safe transport guidelines must be followed. To avoid contracting the coronavirus on public transportation, you can practice the following measures.

Prepare the Essentials

Before leaving the house, pack the essentials. Ensure that you have the following items in your bag:

  • Alcohol, in case handwashing with soap and water is not possible
  • Disposable tissue paper, for disinfection and a small container with cover or a sealed bag for disposal in your bag in case there is no accessible trash bin

Additionally, don’t forget to wear your face mask or cloth face covering. However, take note of the following precautions:

  • Children younger than 2 years old must not wear a face mask or cloth face covering
  • You should not wear it if you’re having difficulty breathing
  • Someone who’s incapacitated in a way they wouldn’t be able to remove the mask without assistance, also shouldn’t wear a mask
  • Those 60 years and older, and those with comorbid illness should wear a medical mask rather than a cloth mask.
  • Your mask should cover your nose and chin at all times. The loop over the ears should not be twisted.
  • Do hand hygiene before putting on and before removing your mask. Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling your mask.
  • Cloth masks should be washed daily. Surgical masks should be replaced when damaged or soiled.

Inspect the Vehicle before Riding

If you don’t want to contract the coronavirus on public transportation, you should check for the vehicle’s space and ventilation. You see, numerous events are consistent with the claim that poor ventilation in enclosed spaces contributes to increased transmission.

To be on the safe side, inspect the vehicle before riding. Does it have a bigger space? Is the air circulating well? If not, you might want to consider taking another mode of transport.

Practice Physical Distancing

Practicing physical distancing may be difficult given the transport systems that we have, especially in Metro Manila. Still, it’s a very important step to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus on public transportation.

The recommended distance you should maintain is 6 feet or 2 meters. Remember that physical distancing is imperative at all times, and not just inside the vehicle.

Furthermore, you can also practice the additional measures below:

  • Skip seats. Jeepneys and buses have most likely marked the appropriate seats to ensure physical distancing. If the vehicle is not yet in its full capacity, try moving farther away from the occupied seat. For example, if the marks ask you to skip one seat, try skipping 2 or 3 seats. The added distance will only last until the vehicle is close to or at full capacity, but it’ll still help.
  • Be on the lookout for signs. Since distancing is a vital step to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on public transportation, transport companies and terminals would have come up with their own policies. To avoid conflict and save time, be sure to check on those policies by looking around you or listening to the authorities.
  • Actively avoid people. You can do this by moving away from crowded groups while waiting for your ride. Additionally, follow the entry and exit points so as not to “collide” with people who are going in the opposite direction.

Avoid Touching Surfaces and Other Objects Unnecessarily

You can get the coronavirus on public transportation by touching surfaces like handrails and ticketing machines.

While it’s almost impossible to not touch anything while you are commuting, try to limit it to the bare minimum.

Finally, don’t forget to disinfect your hands right after contact with all surfaces.

Practice Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

No matter where you are, you must always practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, use sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol in them.

To avoid contracting the coronavirus on public transportation, don’t forget the basics of respiratory etiquette as well. This includes covering your nose and mouth with disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze.

On Handling Cash

Although cashless payment is growing in popularity, bills and coins are still widely used. For instance, traditional transport vehicles like jeeps, buses, and tricycles don’t have cashless options.

To prevent unnecessary contact with cash, always prepare the exact amount needed for your fare.

If you handled cash, sanitize your hands immediately.

Key Reminder – Don’t Touch Your Face

While you may get the virus on public transportation through physical contact, you won’t get infected automatically.

Experts say that having the virus on your hands is not the problem – it’s taking the virus to your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.

For this reason, watch your face. Don’t touch your nose, mouth, or eyes without properly disinfecting your hands first.

Following these steps will help lessen the risk of spreading and contracting the coronavirus on public transportation.

The core steps are still the basics – physical distancing, wearing of face protection (masks and shields), and frequent hand washing.

Learn more about COVID-19 here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

http://www.covid19.gov.ph/covid-19-faqs/
Accessed June 26, 2020

Protect Yourself When Using Transportation
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/using-transportation.html
Accessed June 26, 2020

Considerations for infection prevention and control measures on public transport in the context of COVID-19
https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/covid-19-prevention-and-control-measures-public-transport
Accessed June 26, 2020

How to Safely Travel on Mass Transit During Coronavirus
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-27/trains-planes-and-buses-how-to-avoid-coronavirus
Accessed June 26, 2020

PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND COVID-19
https://www.uitp.org/public-transport-and-covid-19
Accessed June 26, 2020

COVID-19 Best Practice Information: Public Transportation Distancing
https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1588970613487-4fc5e1a2ded7dc08b061c84f3ab63536/2020_05_07_COVID_BP_PublicTransportation_F.pdf
Accessed June 26, 2020

Can going cashless prevent coronavirus spread? Here’s what the WHO wants you to know
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/06/what-you-need-to-know-about-handling-cash-amid-coronavirus-spread-who.html
Accessed June 26, 2020

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 10
Medically reviewed by Erika Joanna Villanueva Caperonce, M.D.