MANILA, Philippines — The Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 (MRT-3) will temporarily suspend its operations starting Tuesday, July 7 until Saturday, July 11, to give way to a battery of RT-PCR swab tests of its employees, after a cluster of positive coronavirus cases was recorded among its personnel.
Depending on the results of the tests, the shutdown of operations may still be extended later on, management said in a statement.
"Out of MRT-3’s more than 3,200 workforce, it will require at least 1,300 personnel to be able to resume limited operations. Currently, 964 additional negative personnel are required to resume…This also means that operations will resume even if the number of available personnel can only operate a limited number of train sets at the beginning," the transportation department's statement read.
"To help ferry commuters, the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program will continue with 90 buses and fixed dispatching interval of every 3 minutes. In addition, 150 buses will be deployed for the EDSA Busway service, carrying passengers between Monumento and the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITx). A mini loop will also run between Timog Ave. and Ortigas to service passengers, where shuttle services / mini buses will be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at the curbside," it added.
Earlier, transport officials said that operations would continue, albeit on fewer MRT-3 train sets deployed, after 59 more personnel tested positive for the coronavirus.
It is not clear how many cases have been recorded, though the total number of infected railway workers at the time stood at 186.
The rail line was operating with severely limited capacity after mass transportation was reopened.
According to Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran, four of the station personnel with COVID-19 are ticket sellers, while one is a nurse and another is a train driver.
Two of the ticket sellers were assigned at the Cubao and North Avenue stations, she said.
"During this pandemic, the mandate to supoort the reopening of the economy shall be balanced with the health and safety of the riding public, and of our public transport personnel," the MRT-3 admin said. — Franco Luna
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