The Department of Transportation on Sunday said it will continue implementing its mask mandate for passengers of the Light Rail Transit (LRT), Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Philippine National Railways (PNR) amid rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

In a statement, Transport Assistant Secretary for Railways Jorjette Aquino said the face mask mandate is 'a preventive measure against COVID-19.'

The policy will be also be implemented in LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 stations but will be optional in PNR stations since these are open air space.

'Security personnel deployed in all of our stations and trains will help ensure that the policy is strictly enforced,' Aquino added.

The transport official said that medical professionals in the railway sector have stressed that the risk of COVID-19 transmission remains inside trains since these are enclosed spaces.

Aquino urged the riding public to protect their fellow commuters by wearing masks and to get their second booster shot against COVID-19.

The Department of Health last week released the guidelines on the administration of the second COVID-19 booster jab, as the agency allows vaccination of the additional shot for the general adult population.

The DOH recorded 2,386 new COVID-19 cases from April 10 to 16, marking a 23% increase from the average recorded the previous week.

Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said last week that slight increases in COVID-19 cases are expected because people are more mobile as the country further opens up.

According to Vergeire, daily COVID-19 cases in the Philippines may range between 289 and 611 by May 15. The projection is based on the current transmission rate of the virus that causes COVID-19, vaccination coverage and compliance to minimum public health standards.

Meanwhile, infections in Metro Manila may reach 30 to 122 per day. - Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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