Category: News & Events

To Limit Public Transportation Because of Coronavirus Risks

Public transportation in our towns is highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks like the worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, public transportation is the lifeblood of our cities, so it is desirable to keep services running as long as you possibly can.

The confined spaces and restricted ventilation of public transportation vehicles can lead to infections among passengers, while frontline transportation workers are especially exposed. An outbreak among these employees could bring whole fleets to a standstill. It would also disrupt the traveling health workers who must be mobilized throughout the pandemic.

Unions representing transportation workers have voiced their concerns and enforced actions including a unilateral ban on cash handling. The Australian government has provided guidelines for passengers and drivers. Transport authorities have participated in expert taskforces and started the process of sourcing products such as hand sanitizers.

While these measures are important, certainly we want guidance beyond general directions to “practice good hygiene” and”use disinfectant wipes”?

What are other countries doing?
In China, despite the majority of the nation is in lockdown, public transportation was completely suspended only in Wuhan and its commuter belt. Buses were then utilized to move medical staff and deliver products.

Most other Chinese towns conducted reduced public transportation services, with a heavy focus on cleanliness and hygiene.

In many cities, the temperatures of transportation staff are assessed daily. They’re equipped with adequate protection equipment like face masks and gloves. Masks are compulsory for all passengers and staff, as is common practice across Asia.

In a normal town like Shenzhen, the bus fleet is sanitized after each trip. Particular attention is paid to seats, armrests, and manages. In depots and interchanges, this is done as frequently as every 2 hours.

Buses are filled to no more than 50% capacity (one person per chair). On-board cameras are utilized to enforce this principle. Floor markings (also embraced in Europe) provide a guide to minimum distances between passengers and promote social distancing.

Around China, health control checkpoints are being used at metro and train stations (and in many private and public buildings). This permits temperature tests as well as the tracing of the movement of people, in the event of contact with a suspected COVID-19 carrier. In most taxis, buses, and subway carriages, passengers are invited to scan a QR code to register their name and contact number, to assist with contact tracing.

Cities around Asia are supplying hand sanitizer gel in public transportation vehicles and interchanges. The cleaning of air conditioning filters has been improved. To improve natural ventilation and reduce the chance of disease, some operators have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets.

Hong Kong railroad operator MTR is using a fleet of cleaning robots to disinfect stations and trains. In Shanghai, ultraviolet light is used to disinfect buses.

In Europe, many people transportation agencies have shut off the use of their front door to reduce disease risk for drivers. Passengers now use the back door (all-door boarding has been common practice).

What’s happening in Australia?
One of the best ways to reduce disease risk is to measure up cleaning efforts. Public transport operators are already doing this, but not to the extent required throughout the course of their day.

Most private bus operators (contracted to authorities ) are just not equipped to undertake the gigantic task if needed to disinfect their vehicles, say, three times per day. For many operators, drivers are required to”sweep” their bus at the end of the shift. Buses undergo a complete interior clean overnight.

There isn’t any capability to wash buses en route during changes. Extreme cases like biohazard incidents (smoke and blood ) require vehicles to be removed from service.

To raise the frequency of cleaning, maybe a government authority could organize “rapid response” cleaners stationed at terminals. Even though this may cause delays involving trips, it might reduce the strain on individual operators.

Should Outdoor Activities Be Banned And Parks Closed?

People”need parks” and councils must keep them open, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has stated.

But does shutting a lot of these and banning outside exercise help stop the spread of coronavirus?

Why have some parks closed and some not?

Closing parks and recreational areas is up to local governments, and some took this step after people began congregating in warmer weather, regardless of social distancing measures.

Many have since reopened, but Middlesbrough’s mayor Andy Preston says those in his city will stay shut.

In a post on social networking, Mr Preston said parks themselves weren’t dangerous, but”people mixing and gathering inappropriately could be fatal”.

Elsewhere, London’s Lambeth Council closed Brockwell Park on the first weekend in April after large amounts gathered to sunbathe.

People around the United Kingdom are now being advised to just leave their houses for the following reasons:

  • To search for essentials and food, but as infrequently as possible
  • To take one form of exercise per day – walking, running or biking
  • To travel to work, if it is not possible to work from home

Official advice now says exercise should be done at home if you or any other people in your household have possible signs of coronavirus.

The government has stated it isn’t likely to stop outdoor exercise differently, but has renewed warnings against sunbathing during the present restrictions.

On 16 April, authorities advice was published about what constitutes a valid reason for leaving your dwelling. The advice, which mainly applies to England, lists driving into the countryside for a walk as”reasonable” if”a lot more time” is spent walking than driving.

But it adds that forcing for a”prolonged period with only short exercise” is not fair.

It also says a man or woman is permitted to stop for a rest in exercise. However brief periods of exercise followed by extended periods of inactivity aren’t permitted (so a brief walk followed by a period of sunbathing wouldn’t be allowed).

How would closing parks help?
It seems more people are likely to parks than in the beginning of the lockdown – though the weather is a huge element.

The government is worried individuals may pass the virus involving themselves in parks, defeating the objective of the present restrictions on movement.

Prof. John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explains there were three ways that the virus could be transmitted:

Touching an infected surface and then your face with unwashed hands

From tiny particles that remain suspended in the atmosphere (aerosols)

From bigger droplets that quickly fall into the floor – the particles in both instances coming from coughing and sneezing, such as

To attempt and avoid that individuals should stay at the recommended 2m (6ft) space from others. However, a US study has suggested that coughs can reach 6m and sneezes 8m.

The government’s latest concern is that crowded parks and people sitting on seats could indicate that people aren’t staying far enough apart, and so there’s a threat of infection.

What problems would stopping outdoor exercise cause?
If outside exercise has been stopped, it would be a specific issue for people without access to a garden.

Labour’s new deputy leader Angela Rayner said it was”all right for folks that have got large houses and enormous back gardens” to inform people sunbathing while watching social distancing to

“The health consequences of this lockdown that we expect – increased alcohol intake, domestic violence, depression and anxiety, poor diet and decreased physical activity – will get worse if we limit us to our houses, without the hugely significant respite that outdoor exercise provides.”

Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at University of Oxford, pointed to limited evidence that individuals who exercise suffer the symptoms of diseases like Covid for fewer days.

He also worried that individuals with other health conditions do much worse with the virus, and if people stop working out they’re more likely to have other ailments.