Government readies 7,000 hospital beds in COVID-19 isolation hubs
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - April 8, 2020 - 9:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is rolling out more than 7,000 hospital beds into its retrofitted quarantine venues, including three vessels, in Metro Manila and neighboring areas and is hunting for more in an indication of a longer fight against the coronavirus disease- 2019 (COVID-19).

From the initial 1,950 announced on three different sites nearly a week ago, officials said an estimated 7,235 hospital beds are now being prepared in eight locations in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Pampanga.

The plan, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a text message, is for these sites to house “mild COVID-19 positive patients for now” as cases rise, hitting 3,870 on Wednesday afternoon, while hospitals get overwhelmed of patients with no sign the country is flattening the infection curve.

For instance, the Medical City just announced it would decline admitting COVID-19 patients for now as its health facilities get swamped. Other premier hospitals like St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City as well as Makati Medical Center had already suspended accepting COVID-19 patients for confinement.

Of the planned isolation hubs, three passenger vessels of logistics firm 2-GO will host the most number of beds at 1,800, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Monday. A passenger terminal for the vessels alone will be able to house 1,000 patients.

Conversions of the Philippine Arena and surrounding areas in Bulacan will also add another 2,000 beds, Restituto Padilla of the COVID-19 task force said Wednesday evening. 

Anna Mae Lamentillo, chair of the public works department’s Build, Build, Build committee, said the National Government Administrative Center (NGAC) in Clark in Pampanga will contribute another 1,000.

Retrofitting the facilities, however, may take time and Lamentillo clarified only “close to 1,000” beds, particularly in Metro Manila, will be ready to accept patients this month. “We also have usable facilities in Clark,” she said, although did not specify if these includes those in NGAC or Athlete’s Village which can house 525 beds.

Expandable

Apart from Philippine Arena, Duque said the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City will be ready to accept 294 patients next week, way lower than the 700 Nograles estimated days ago.

Still in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the local outbreak, the World Trade Center in Pasay is undergoing a face-lift to accommodate 502 patients, down from 650 originally announced, while the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Quezon City is poised to house 112 beds.

“After due consideration, we had to include provisions for healthcare workers, triage, PPE (personal protective equipment) safe areas and decontamination areas,” Nograles told Philstar.com when asked what accounted for the discrepancy. 

That said, Lamentillo said quarantine sites can be expanded as currently they are typically concentrated on just one part of the venue. For instance, she said in Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila and PICC, only one part of the stadiums is being used for now. 

“Hopefully we'll be able to flatten the curve and we won't need to expand further. But we're looking at other areas. Hopefully we won't need more,” Lamentillo said. 

Additional isolation sites in NCR

Lamentillo also confirmed that the eight other sites in Metro Manila are being considered to be converted into quarantine areas when the need arises. These are Duty Free establishment in Paranaque, PhilSports Arena in Pasig, Quezon Memorial Circle Complex, Veterans Medical Center Complex, Amoranto Stadium and Quezon Institute in Quezon City, Food Terminal Inc. in Taguig and Filinvest Tent in Muntinlupa.

 

If you believe you have come into possible contact with infected patients, you may be directed to the proper office of the Department of Health for advice through the following lines: (632) 8651-7800 local 1149/1150 or (632) 165-364.

You may also opt to call the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at (02) 8807-2631/ 8807-2632/ 8807-2637.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS EXPLAINER NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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