PH converts facilities into COVID-19 hospital, 'mega quarantine' center

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — A hospital that exclusively caters to COVID-19 patients and a "mega quarantine center" will soon be operational as the country responds to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.

Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Vince Dizon on Friday said the National Government Administrative Center in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac will be turned into a temporary hospital that can house 1,000 patients.

The Convention Center that used by members of the media during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and the Athlete's Village, currently home to thousands of repatriated Filipinos, will be converted into quarantine facilities estimated to hold a total of 700 beds.

Bases Conversion and Development Authority, which owns and manages NCC, said it is hiring 93 health workers to care for the patients to be brought to its facilities.

Meanwhile, Dizon said the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan will be transformed into a "mega quarantine facility" which can house suspected COVID-19 patients from Central Luzon.

He said the Iglesia ni Cristo has already given the permission to use the world’s largest indoor arena.

Other facilities and areas that will be converted into quarantine facilities include the Quezon Institute, the Food Terminal Incorporated or FTI, the Philsports Arena, Ultra, Filinvest Tent, Duty Free Philippines, the Amoranto Stadium and open areas at the Quezon Memorial Center and the Veterans Medical Complex.

The government is fast-tracking the conversion of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the World Trade Center, and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and are expected to be ready for use by April 10.

Dan Lichauco. the architect overseeing the transformation, said all the facilities will be built like "mini hospitals" aimed to give the much-needed care and treatment to the patients, designed to prevent contamination and provide comfortable space for patients and health workers.

Officials have said the facilities will house COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, symptomatic patients awaiting their test results, and asymptomatic people who have been exposed to the virus. Those with severe and critical symptoms linked to the novel coronavirus will be admitted in hospitals.

Health spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire underscored the importance of building quarantine facilities.

"Napakaimportante ng facilities na ganito kasi mas nako-contain natin ang transmission ng sakit. Pangalawa, mapoprotektahan din natin ang pamilya nila kung sakaling wala silang appropriate na self isolation na kwarto sa kanilang bahay," she said in a virtual media briefing.

[Translation: These facilities are important because we can contain the transmission of the virus. We can also protect the family of those infected in case there is no room in their homes where the patient can self isolate.]

The Philippine government is targeting an April 14 start of "massive testing" of persons suspected of coronavirus infection.

The Philippines has 2,633 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 107 deaths, and 51 recoveries.