By Mario B. Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, visited on Monday (April 13) the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) that has been converted into a quarantine site to help isolate patients and control the spread of the coronavirus.
Joining Go at the inspection were Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon, Office of Civil Defence (OCD) Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, and other officials from the health and infrastructure agencies.
Go is a member of the joint congressional oversight committee monitoring the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,
An inspection of the World Trade Center (WTC), Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum Hall, and other facilities was also conducted by other officials on the same day.
“Isa sa aking panawagan noong mga nakaraang linggo ay ang pagbuo ng quarantine areas gamit ang mga available facilities na pwedeng mai-convert into isolation sites,’’ Go said.
(One of my recommendations last week was the establishment of quarantine areas using available facilities that can be converted into isolation sites.)
“Ngayon na available na ang mga pasilidad na na-convert into isolation sites, pwede nang gamitin ang mga ito para mas agresibo nating masugpo at ma-contain ang pagkalat ng COVID-19,’’ he added.
(Now that the facilities that have been converted into isolation sites are available, they can be put to use for us to aggressively contain the spread of COVID-19.)
According to Health officials, the WTC, PICC, and Ninoy Aquino Stadium inside RMSC will cater to mild and asymptomatic patients, while Rizal Memorial Stadium will be a COVID-19 step-down facility. With the facilities in place, a total of 1,125 beds are now available to patients from Metro Manila and nearby regions.
The facilities will be managed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) medical corps composed of doctors, nurses, and medical staff.
The protective personal equipment (PPEs) for the health workers will be provided by the Department of Health.
The facilities will also offer free laundry services and food. Utility companies such as Meralco and PLDT will provide free electricity and wifi connection, respectively.
Go also turned over to the Ninoy Aquino Stadium quarantine facility various goods from private donors. The donations consisted of 49 boxes of toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, and soap), and 31 boxes of slippers.
Other than these facilities, sports and convention areas outside Metro Manila are also being converted into quarantine sites.
These are the Philippine Arena, Tarlac Convention Center, and facilities inside New Clark City.
The officials present at the ocular inspection then went to a terminal in Pier 15 South Harbor in Manila to check on the ships offered by the 2GO Company that were converted into floating quarantine facilities.
They were met by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officials in charge of converting the private passenger vessels into temporary floating quarantine facilities compliant with health standards.
Two ships are now readily available to receive patients in need of medical treatment and emergency. The first ship has a 350-bed capacity and can be used as accommodation for medical frontliners, while the other ship has a 1,500-bed capacity.
“Centrally located itong Pier 15, kaya kapag kailangan ng medical treatment o may emergency, ang mga ospital sa Manila ay nasa 1-kilometer to 4-kilometers radius distance lamang,” Go said.
The government also continued to enhance the capacity of more hospitals and medical laboratories to be COVID-19 testing centers in different parts of the country.
With more quarantine facilities and testing centers in place, officials are optimistic that these will help increase the recovery rate of patients and control the further spread of COVID-19 in the country.