Assign COVID-19 marshals in public transport – lawmaker

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Assign COVID-19 marshals in public transport â lawmaker
Motorists and commuters are back on the road at EDSA-Guadalupe on the first day of general community quarantine in Metro Manila on June 1, 2020.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas, file

MANILA, Philippines — To ensure strict compliance with health protocols in public transportation, a House leader wants marshals to be deployed in buses, trains and jeepneys which tend to load passengers beyond the limit during rush hour.

“I have been informed that passengers are almost jampacked in buses and jeepneys,” said Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, chairman of the House committee on transportation.

He pointed out that as head of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Secretary Arthur Tugade has the power to deploy “public transportation marshals” tasked with enforcing health and safety protocols on public utility buses and vehicles (PUBs and PUVs).

“Commuters who are asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers are potential super-spreaders and until we are able to reach our vaccination goals, we cannot let our guard down,” said Sarmiento in justifying the need for marshals.

He stressed that contact-tracing on public transportation has also become close to impossible because there is no reliable contact-tracing system for land transportation, so strict and consistent enforcement of minimum health protocols must be made more efficient.

Dentists, med techs as vaccinators

In another development in the House, Reps. Helen Tan of Quezon, Stella Luz Quimbo of Marikina City and Kit Belmonte of Quezon City filed a bill that taps dentists and medical technologists as vaccinators in the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout program.

“With the arrival of more vaccines in the country, the swift rollout of the vaccine is needed for the efficient administration and prevention of possible expiration of the doses,” read the explanatory note of House Bill 9354.

The lawmakers said the measure also aims to amend the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Law (Republic Act 11525) that laid out the framework and guidelines for the procurement, administration process and provision of funds for the government’s inoculation program.

Aside from doctors and other medical professionals, the law only allows duly trained pharmacists and midwives to administer doses of Food and Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Tan, Quimbo and Belmonte said the addition of dentists and medical technologists as vaccinators would contribute to the expansion of the vaccination program and hasten the drive towards herd immunity.



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