DPWH steps up quarantine facility construction in COVID-weary Zamboanga

Published May 30, 2021, 5:29 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) has recognized the severity of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the Zamboanga peninsula–something that has spurred the agency to speed up its construction of additional isolation facilities in the region.

(Photo from the DPWH)

“Although we see progress toward a transition to new normalcy especially with the vaccine rollout proving effective and rapidly bending the curve…covid cases [are] still high in Zamboanga Peninsula with Zamboanga City still under stricter…modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said in a statement Sunday, May 30.

Villar–designated by President Duterte last year as isolation czar–said the ongoing conversion of the old Zamboanga Convention Center in Pasonanca, Zamboanga City will provide additional isolation/quarantine facilities for the treatment of asymptomatic and moderate COVID-19 patients. In his report to Villar, Undersecretary and DPWH Task Force for Augmentation of Health Facilities Head Emil K. Sadain said the DPWH Regional Office 9’s repurposing works for the Pasonanca quarantine facility will be completed this June.

By then, the convention center will have met minimum public health standards (MPHS) for isolation and quarantine.

The 182-bed isolation facility can provide flex space for hospitals to discharge non-emergency COVID cases, thus freeing much-needed hospital beds in Zamboanga City for severe and critical patients, Sadain said.

The undersecretary also carried out an inspection on the quarantine facility project together with Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Romeo Ong, Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco, and DPWH Region 9 Director Cayamombao Dia. Meanwhile, the proposed construction of a modular hospital with 22 beds for moderate and severe to critical covid patients inside Mindanao Central Sanitarium (MCS) compound in Pasobolong, Zamboanga City is also set to start this June. The DPWH Task Force has already built 674 units of COVID-19 facilities nationwide. These consist of 613 quarantine/isolation facilities with 23,324 total beds; 51 off-site dormitories with 1,267 total beds, and 10 modular hospital with 252 beds.