METRO RAIL Transit System Line 3 (MRT-3) operations will be shut down for five days amid a coronavirus outbreak among staff members, the Transportation department said on Monday.

“The temporary shutdown will be undertaken to give way to the swab testing of all MRT-3 personnel, including those of its maintenance provider and subcontractors, to prevent further spread of the disease, and, most importantly, to protect the health and safety of both its personnel and commuters,” the agency said in a statement.

The rail system will be closed from July 7 to July 11, and will resume limited operations when enough workers test negative for the COVID-19 virus, it said.

The shutdown period may be shortened or extended depending on the pace and results of the tests.

Six station workers — four ticket sellers, a nurse and a train driver — have been infected with the virus as of July 5, the Transportation department said. It added that 166 depot workers have tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) reported 2,099 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 46,333.

The death toll rose to 1,303 after six more patients died, while recoveries increased by 243 to 12,185, it said in a bulletin. There are 32,845 active cases.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire traced the increase in cases to the verification process in laboratories.

She said they have identified emerging virus hotspots including the cities of Marikina, Muntinlupa, Makati and Quezon, which are all in Metro Manila.

Infections in the Visayas region have been decreasing, but a “clustering of cases” has been observed in 64 towns in Cebu province and 314 towns in Metro Manila, Ms. Vergeire said. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Vann Marlo M. Villegas