City of Manila begins construction of COVID-19 field hospital at Luneta Park

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) — The city government of Manila on Tuesday broke ground to start the construction of a 336-bed capacity COVID-19 field hospital at Luneta Park.

During the ceremony, Manila Mayor Francisco 'Isko Moreno' Domagoso said this is a way to lessen incidents of deaths of coronavirus patients even before being admitted by hospitals that are fully occupied.

The ₱154-million facility will accommodate mild and moderate patients and is expected to be completed within two months, Moreno said in a statement. Its total capacity may still be expanded by 100 beds when needed, with some 150 medical frontliners monitoring patients in the field hospital, he added.

The mayor said that it will be equipped with inter-communication between patients and medical frontliners, internet connection, and will be air-conditioned.

"We are hoping ma reach natin yung 60 days," Moreno told CNN Philippines on Wednesday when asked when the facility will be completed. [Translation: We are hoping to reach 60 days]

Present during the ceremony were Manila Vice Mayor Ma. Shielah Lacuna-Pangan, as well as some top officials of the government, namely, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., NTF Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Sec. Vince Dizon, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

During the event, Puyat said the department is supporting the construction of temporary medical facilities in tourism sites.

She noted that Moreno’s request to build a facility in the Rizal Park was approved by the National Parks Development Committee, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism.

Puyat added that the proposal to use Quirino Grandstand as the site of a temporary drive-thru vaccination center was approved. She noted that this can accommodate 350 to 450 persons a day.

The country has been observing a spike in COVID-19 infections since early this year. To date, the total number of cases has reached 953,106, with 127,006 currently sick patients.

As more people get infected, many hospitals, especially those in Metro Manila, get overwhelmed. Based on latest government data, the country’s bed occupancy is at 52.8%. In the capital region alone, occupancy rate is at 66.1%, with 50 facilities classified under the critical level, 22 under high-risk, 17 under moderate, and 66 are still safe.

To address this, the government has been making efforts to construct more modular hospitals and isolation facilities.

Isolation czar and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said they have so far constructed 653 facilities with more than 24,000 beds across the country. By next month, he said they target to complete a total of 816 facilities, with more than 27,000 beds.