Barangays can turn classrooms into virus isolation rooms if needed – DOH

Mara Cepeda
Barangays can turn classrooms into virus isolation rooms if needed – DOH

Rappler.com

Currently, hospitals are prioritizing severe and critical COVID-19 patients for confinement due to lack of facilities and testing kits

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said barangays have the option to turn classrooms into isolation rooms for patients with the novel coronavirus

Speaking to dzMM on Friday, March 20, Duque said this is one option Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams can take to make sure cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, will be isolated from the rest of the population. 

“Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams should focus on isolation rooms, identify where isolation rooms can be placed. Among the possible places are schools, classrooms,” Duque said in Filipino. (READ: Braving a pandemic: Frontliners battle fear to confront the novel coronavirus)

The DOH chief said beds in isolation rooms should be at least two meters apart.

Duque explained allowing local government units to turn schools into isolation centers was one option to ensure even COVID-19 cases showing mild to moderate symptoms have somewhere to go for their quarantine. (READ: Millions could die if virus allowed to spread unchecked – U.N. chief)

Currently, hospitals are prioritizing severe and critical COVID-19 patients for confinement due to lack of facilities and testing kits. 

Dapat doon talaga lahat ng ang tutok. So ‘yong mga kailangan i-isolate na mga mild to moderate cases, hindi naman puwedeng pabayaan sila. ‘Yong mga moderate, puwede kasing mag-deteriorate into severe or critical cases. ‘Yon ‘yong kailangan magkaroon na ng mga isolation rooms,” Duque said. 

(That’s really what we need to focus on. We can’t just abandon mild to moderate cases. Moderate cases can deteriorate into severe or critical cases, and they’re the ones who need to be in isolation rooms.)

The DOH secretary already said he green-lighted the plan to turn a building of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center as hospitals exclusive for COVID-19 patients.  

The government is also eyeing to turn the Lung Center of the Philippines as another centralized hospital for COVID-19, but its “operationalization” is still being studied because many cancer patients are still confined here. 

To date, the Philippines has reported a total of 217 cases of the novel coronavirus, 17 of whom already died. Eight patients, however, already recovered from COVID-19. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.