Gwen clarifies, defends air purifier requirement
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Despite criticisms and public backlash, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will keep the mandatory use of wearable air purifiers among drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles (PUVs).
But Garcia, during one of her regular press conferences on Tuesday, August 17, clarified that the order will only cover those who operate buses, mini-buses, and modern jeepneys.
Garcia also said the requirement served as an ‘enhancement’, and not to ‘set aside existing health protocols mandated way back a year and a half ago.’
“It was very, very clear that this would be as an added protection on top of the minimum health protocols that have been established, which we have been repeating since the start of this pandemic,” said Garcia.
As a result, she decided to move the implementation of the memorandum directing the mandatory use of wearable purifiers to August 25 so operators, drivers, and conductors have more time to acquire them.
On the other hand, Garcia defended the use of air purifiers by saying out that these do not cause harm to the wearers and will add protection.
She cited several studies such as one titled Negative Air Ions and Their Effects on Human Health and Air Quality Improvement published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2018 by Shu-Ye Jiang, Ali Ma, and Srinivasan Ramachandran
Garcia also pointed out to several national government officials as examples, such as President Rodrigo Duterte, who wear air purifiers in public, and asked the Department of Health (DOH) whether or not using air purifiers against COVID-19 is harmful.
“What is it really? Do you (DOH) have nothing agianst the use of necklace air purifiers? Or you have a stand against necklace air purifiers? I appreciate Usec. Vergeire’s (Health Usec. Ma. Rosario Vergeire) statement saying ‘hindi po ito nakaka-cause nang harm sa tao’,” explained Garcia.
In the meantime, Garcia announced the Capitol will be providing free supplementary vitamins to all drivers and conductors if it meant adding more protection against COVID-19.
“Our drivers and conductors also happen to be frontliners… They meet and interact with a lot of people who get on board and disembark their vehicles,” she said.
Last week, Garcia announced that air purifiers will be mandatory in PUVs, particularly those with poor ventilation.
This is on top of the Capitol’s existing protocol for vehicles used in public transportation to only operate at a maximum of 75 percent seating capacity, and adapt an ‘open-air’ concept.
According to the governor, data from the provincial government showed that most COVID-19 transmissions occur in vehicles with enclosed spaces. / ###
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