The Solaire-PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) mega quarantine facility, dubbed as the biggest isolation center in Metro Manila to date, was officially launched at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino in Parañaque City on Tuesday in a bid to further boost the region's capability to accommodate more COVID-19 patients.
National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chairperson Delfin Lorenzana thanked the business sector for the turnover of the 525-bed mega quarantine facility, which was completed in partnership with the Enrique Razon-led Razon Group through Prime Metro BMD Corporation and Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc.
The facility was built in record time five weeks and is now ready to accept mild to asymptomatic patients from Metro Manila and other nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.
According to the builders, the isolation center was made as an open air facility to allow the proper dilution of virus, which is "a far better method" of quarantining and containing the virus as opposed to enclosed facilities.
"It is in preventing cross contamination and containing the virus within its compound," said Architect Daniel Lichauco, of the independent firm Archion Architects.
Lorenzana said the facility will help Metro Manila prepare its capacity in case it eases to the less stricter modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in the coming months.
On Monday night, President Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases to place Metro Manila and five other areas namely Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Bacolod City, and Iligan City under GCQ until the end of October 2020.
"We hope to put up more isolation facilities not only in Metro Manila but in the regions, too. For some reasons, the virus has started spreading in regions as well," Lorenzana said.
He claimed that the country has continuously seen a downward trend in the number of newly recorded cases, which is a "good sign" that the public has already "learned" how to live with the virus and the economy is ready to be opened little by little.
"he curve of the virus is flattening. We hope to bring it down a little bit more. Last night (Monday) during our meeting in Malacanang, the target was to bring down to three digits because we are now at four digits. Yesterday we had 3,073 so it's hovering between 2,700 to above 3,000. That's a good sign," Lorenzana said.
"We believe that the Filipino people has finally learned to live with the virus, in what to do, and we are now doing it. We want to thank everybody for the cooperation in trying to curb this virus," he added.
Asked when Metro Manila will actually be ready for MGCQ, Lorenzana said the month-long GCQ extension was a chance for the local government units (LGUs) to iron out the safety protocols that they are implementing in preparation for the capital region's transition to looser quarantine restrictions.
"Actually, marami na ang LGUs sa Metro Manila na gusto nang mag-MGCQ kaya lang mayroong iba pa rin, I think about half, who would like to continue with GCQ para ma-plantsa nila 'yong mga ginagawa (Actually, a lot of LGUs in Metro Manila want to shift to modified general community quarantine but there were also some, I think about half, who would like to continue with GCQ to iron out what they have been doing)," Lorenzana bared.
"They're very afraid that if we loosen up, we will spike again at babalik na naman tayo sa MECQ (and we'll just go back to the modified enhanced community quarantine). I think one month more will not hurt us, it will help us a lot," he continued.
Aside from Lorenzana, the opening of the Solaire-PAGCOR mega quarantine facility was witnessed by NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil Sadain, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, JV Emmanuel de Dios, chief executive officer of the Prime Metro BMD Corporation which is the Razon Group's construction arm, and Archion Architects' Lichauco among others.