National quarantine centers ready in 10 days – Galvez

JC Gotinga

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National quarantine centers ready in 10 days – Galvez
Stadiums and convention halls are being converted into quarantine facilities, and the first one may be ready by April 6, says NTF COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr

MANILA, Philippines – Work is underway to convert several large venues in Metro Manila into national quarantine centers for patients and possible cases of the novel coronavirus, and they are expected to be ready within 10 days, said National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr on Friday April 3.

Galvez inspected the construction quarantine facilities at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila, the World Trade Center, and the Philippine International Convention Center, both in Pasay City.

Workers were setting up panels to divide the cavernous halls into makeshift rooms. Construction was well underway at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, and Galvez said it will probably be ready by Monday, April 6.

The 3 venues are expected to house around 2,000 patients. Galvez said there are 3,000 to 6,000 persons under monitoring (PUM) and patients under investigation (PUI) for the virus in the country.

The NTF’s plan is to carry out “massive testing” of PUMs, PUIs, and medical frontliners.

Confirmed patients with mild symptoms, PUIs, and PUMs will be “isolated” in national quarantine centers to keep them from transmitting the virus to their communities. This will also free up hospitals to care for confirmed patients with severe symptoms, Galvez said.

“By doing so, we shall be able to immediately identify, isolate, and treat the patients who have tested positive for the disease. Mas maganda po ‘yon para at least hindi na po sila magpalaboy-laboy, at ma-treat nang maaga ang mga COVID-19 patient,” Galvez said in a televised briefing.

(That’s better so that they don’t have to go elsewhere and COVID-19 patients can be treated early.)

Anticipating an increase in the number of PUMs and PUIs, the NTF is looking at several other large venues to convert into quarantine facilities:

  • Quezon City Institute
  • Duty-Free Philippines in Parañaque
  • Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City
  • Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City
  • Veterans Memorial Medical Center complex in Quezon City
  • PhilSports Complex in Pasig City
  • Food Terminal Inc in Taguig City
  • Filinvest Tent in Muntinlupa City
  • Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan

More tests a priority

The current focus of the NTF’s efforts, Galvez said, is to increase the Department of Health’s (DOH) capability to test people for the virus.

“The good news is that our capacity to conduct COVID-19 testing has significantly improved. Our goal is to be able to do around 2,000 to 3,000 tests per day. But we also have to ensure the safety of our medical personnel and patients when we carry out these tests,” Galvez added.

There are currently 9 hospitals and laboratories accredited to run coronavirus tests:

  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Muntinlupa City
  • San Lazaro Hospital, Manila
  • Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Baguio City
  • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Cebu City
  • Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao City
  • University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health, Manila
  • Lung Center of the Philippines, Quezon City
  • Western Visayas Medical Center, Iloilo City
  • Bicol Public Health Laboratory, Legazpi City

The NTF is pushing for the accreditation of another 9 institutions as testing centers.

All in all, the DOH has done at least 16,268 tests for the coronavirus, Galvez said.

A PUI is someone who has two or all of the following:

  • History of travel in the past 14 days to countries with local transmissions and risk of importation of the virus
  • History of exposure to a confirmed case
  • Symptoms of respiratory illness (cough and/or colds) and/or fever

Meanwhile, a PUM is someone who has a history of travel to a virus-hit country or exposure to a coronavirus patient. (READ: When should you get tested for the coronavirus?)

Health officials and experts estimate that the number of coronavirus patients in the Philippines will keep rising until around June before it starts to decline.

As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded 3,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 136 deaths and 52 recoveries. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.