OVERLOADED. Four men hanging on the back of an overloaded jeepney. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Friday (Jan. 31, 2020) ordered all public utility vehicle drivers and conductors to wear face masks due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV). (File photo)

MANILA -- All public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and conductors on Friday were ordered to wear face masks at all times while on duty due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV).

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) memorandum circular (MC) 2020-005 also calls for "all franchise holders to ensure compliance herewith".

Signed on Thursday by LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III and released on Friday, the memorandum also directed terminal operators to provide free face masks and sanitizers to passengers, aside from ensuring the cleanliness of their terminals.

“All terminal operators to ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness in their premises, to provide face masks as well as disinfectant or sanitizer dispensers for free use of passengers,” the memorandum read.

The memorandum, signed before the announcement of the first confirmed case of nCoV in the country on Thursday, was issued as it was deemed “necessary and urgent” to devise precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the riding public against the contagious disease.

Violators will be fined PHP2,000 for first offense; second offense a PHP3,000 fine, suspension of Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) for 60 days, and confiscation of “for hire” plates; and third offense will result in a fine of PHP5,000 and cancellation of CPC.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed that a 38-year-old Chinese female is the first case of nCoV in the Philippines.

Following the first confirmed case, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday gave permission for a temporary travel ban on visitors from the entire Hubei province in China, where Wuhan City—the epidemic’s epicenter—is located. (PNA)