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Cebu PUVs, drivers required to use air purifiers

SAFE DISTANCE Passengers at the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City wear face masks while observing physical distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19. Buses plying provincial routes in Cebu are now required to install air purifiers. —DALE ISRAEL

CEBU CITY—To help protect passengers against COVID-19, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has ordered all drivers and conductors in all public utility vehicles (PUVs) in the province to use wearable air purifiers aside from face masks and face shields starting Monday next week.

Garcia also required the installation of air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air or Hepa filter equipment inside the PUVs, also beginning on Aug. 16.

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Similar measures must be implemented in enclosed establishments, the governor said in an executive order on Friday.

“Transmission happens in the air. So, if we could purify the air around us, it really helps. We have this technology to clean the air around you, why not use it?” said Garcia in a press briefing on Friday.

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The average cost of a wearable personal air purifier is about P1,000, the cost of which should be shouldered by the PUV operators, said Garcia.

Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas said at least 182 air-conditioned buses were issued “termination notices” early this month when the entire island of Cebu was placed under a stricter quarantine classification.

Garcia said they were looking into allowing these buses to operate as long as they install air purifiers with Hepa filter equipment, especially since some of these buses do not have wide windows to allow proper ventilation.

“We cannot deny that the number of COVID-19 cases has increased. So we are trying to put all possible measures to stem the transmission by containing it,” the governor said.

Garcia said all establishments, even call centers, were also required to install air purifiers with Hepa filters depending on the size of their rooms. Their workers also have to wear personal air purifiers, just like the PUV drivers.

High mortality

Cebu also continued to see a spike in COVID-19-related deaths, with 389 persons succumbing to the disease in a span of just 12 days, according to the Department of Health (DOH).Based on its daily case bulletin, the number of coronavirus fatalities from the start of the month until Aug. 12 was higher than the months of May to July combined.

Cebu province had the highest death count in August at 228, followed by Cebu City (95), Lapu-Lapu City (37) and Mandaue City (29). From May to July 2021, Cebu Island recorded 388 COVID-19 deaths.

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Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center, said the critical care utilization rate in all 15 hospitals in the city is now at a high-risk level of 72.7 percent.

Even if there were still some beds left in some hospitals, Garganera said it did not mean they could accommodate more patients since there was not enough manpower to attend to the sick people.

As of Thursday, Cebu province also has the most number of COVID-19 active cases in Central Visayas at 4,823; followed by Cebu City (3,806), Lapu-Lapu City (1,742) and Mandaue City (1,638), according to the DOH.

Cebu province remains under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions while the rest of the island is under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until Aug. 31, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Friday.

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TAGS: air purifier, Cebu City, Gov. Garcia, pandemic, Transportation
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