Cebu City's COVID facility still unused
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - May 25, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  A month after it was inaugurated on April 25 and over two months since construction began on March 19, the Cebu City North Quarantine Center at the North Reclamation Area remains unused.

The head of the city’s COVID-19 Task Force, Councilor Dave Tumulak, confirmed this with The Freeman.

“Maayo unta’g magamit na na kay daghan kaayo’ng mga pasyente sa hospital natanggong,” Tumulak said.

(I hope the facility can be used soon because there are many patients confined in hospitals.)

He said former councilor Joey Daluz, special assistant to the mayor, is the one overseeing the quarantine center but Daluz could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A security guard also told The Freeman yesterday that no patient has been brought to the facility. The Freeman wanted to take photos inside but the guard on duty said permission from the mayor’s office is needed for entry.

During the blessing of the facility on April 25, Mayor Edgardo Labella said what remained were some finishing touches for the project. In March, the city government said construction would be finished in 10 days. The facility is meant to house symptomatic patients.

Councilor Nestor Archival told The Freeman that the machines necessary to make the anteroom functional are unavailable just yet.

“Basically, gi-design siya as a negative pressure building so it has a special kind of equipment… naay room para sa mga pasyente, naa puy anteroom para sa pagsuyop sa air gikan sa imong patients, and these machines are not available,” Archival said.

(Basically, it’s designed as a negative pressure building so it’s a special kind of equipment… there’s a room for the patients and there’s an anteroom that will suck the air from the patients, and the machines are not available.)

Archival, an electrical engineer, said that based on what he saw during his visit this month, the equipment inside do not appear to support a negative pressure building.

For one, he said, the rooms are cubicle type rooms that have open ceiling.

“Ang iyang ceiling open so if there are patients in one room, malanghap gihapon na sa surroundings. It’s basically an aircon building,” he said.

(The room’s ceiling is open so if there are patients in a room, those outside breathe the same air. It’s basically an aircon building)

Archival also pointed out that the air conditioning installed there is ordinary type split air conditioning, and the building’s main ceiling is too high.

“Ambot unsaon pagkabugnaw ana pud nga building. Ang power pud nga gamiton ana, kas kaayo na,” he said.

(I don’t know how they can make the building cold. It also needs a huge amount of power for the air conditioning to work.)

In a letter to Labella dated March 16, some city councilors, including Archival, suggested having two isolation centers – one in the north and one in the south – so that doctors and nurses can focus on patient care, and do not have to hop from one barangay isolation center to another.

Archival said they did not know at that time that the structure at the North Reclamation Area is a negative pressure building.

“Kung amo sad nang i-suggest nga kana lang sa ang himuon nga isolation center para sa mga asymptomatic, basin naa na pud na silay contract between the city government and the contractor,” Archival said.

(If we suggest that it house asymptomatic patients for now, it might conflict with the agreement between the city government and the contractor.)

Residents who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated at schools in their barangay that has been converted into isolation centers, including those who are asymptomatic, which is the case of most patients in Cebu City.

Archival said the city decided to open barangay isolation centers when the number of cases started going up. 

The Department of Education (DepEd) has given the city until June 15 to continue using the schools but Tumulak has requested the department to extend the period, subject to recommendation from health authorities. Cebu City has 1,869 cases as of yesterday, May 24.

Meanwhile, the New Normal Oasis for Adaptation and a Home (NOAH) complex at the South Road Properties (SRP) is set to be blessed this week.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama clarified that the facility is not meant to compete with the project at the NRA.

“It’s better for everyone to see it and be the judge,” he said.

The facility at the SRP is the existing Bigfoot Studios, which was transformed into a quarantine center for asymptomatic patients. JMO (FREEMAN)

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