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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will be conducting random antigen testing to Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) passengers, following the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, the agency announced on Sunday.
The test will be conducted on consenting and volunteering passengers, DOTr noted. This is to help gauge the presence of the coronavirus in the railways, the agency said.
“The random antigen testing of consenting and volunteering passengers is intended to guide us in the adoption of any further needed measures,” Undersecretary TJ Batan said.
“Passengers who volunteer to be tested will be permitted to proceed with their trip after testing, and will be informed of their test results by text message.”
LRT and MRT will retain the current 70 percent capacity even as the national capital region (NCR) was placed under Alert Level 3 beginning January 3 to 15. Strict health protocols will be observed in the rail lines to prevent the transmition of the virus.
“As recommended by our railways sector, all rail lines will maintain the present 70% passenger capacity under the Alert Level 3 status, provided that strict health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be enforced,” DOTr Secretary Art Tugade said.
“This is to avoid the ‘bottlenecking’ or crowding of passengers at stations, which may increase the risk of virus transmission,” he added.
Moreover, train marshals are ordered to make sure that all passengers will wear face masks; avoid talking, eating, and using their mobile phones; and observe physical distancing while inside the train.
Tugade also ordered that rail workers be given booster shots to increase operational resilience.