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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Race against time to stem COVID-19 tide

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With the number of confirmed cases of COVID 19 rising in the Philippines, hospitals since last week have raised the alarm of insufficient space to accommodate patients who tested positive for the virus.

Race against time to stem COVID-19 tide

Local government units are now exploring the use of hotels, open lots, and other public spaces as quarantine centers. 

At the Philippine Army General Hospital in Taguig, a hastily-formed team of soldiers, carpenters and architects are working round-the-clock to finish a new design for a COVID-19 emergency quarantine facility.

 It is a race against time with several other facilities being built at 30 identified hospital sites at the Manila Naval Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa, V Luna Gen Hospital, Air Force Hospital, Army Gen Hospital, QC Gen Hospital, Chinese Gen Hospital, and Ospital ng Muntinlupa, among others.

Filipino “arkies”,  army officers to the rescue

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Behind the project are a group of Filipino architects and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who designed the emergency quarantine facility  to help hospitals accommodate more  Covid 19 patients.

Architect William Ti , recently spoke to the Manila Standard, and explained how his colleagues from the industry created the design for an affordable and easy to build facility which can house persons under investigation (PUIs).

“This is mainly to augment the capacities of the hospitals, as they become unable to accept more patients,” Ti said. “It prevents people who are under quarantine from being forced to go home and infect their families and friends.”

Ti, principal architect of WTA Architecture and Design Studio (WTA), said the design, which can be used by free of charge, is a horizontal structure with a wooden frame wrapped in a protective plastic skin.

It can accommodate 15 beds, a testing box, sanitation and disinfection areas, and a nurse’s lounge.

“Sariling-sikap” for now

“Almost all the cost of the current facilities under construction, is shouldered by the industry,” said Ti. He revealed that his office sponsors the manpower while companies such as Matimco, Consolidated Wood, Uratex, Kuysen, among many others, sponsor the materials.

The building itself can be put within five days, with easily available materials, and the total cost clocks in at just under P300,000 for each facility.

The architect encourages any agency, private or otherwise, to use the design for the construction for their own quarantine facilities.

“We’ve made the designs open source and put them up online, so everyone can have access to them,” said Ti. “We hope more groups would take up the designs and do with them as they please so we can build more facilities faster.”

Race against time to stem COVID-19 tide

Excerpts from Manila Standard’s interview with Ti:

How did the idea to create a design for this emergency quarantine facility come about?

A group of friends of mine were talking with Dr. Glenn Angeles about why the virus spreads, and the plight of sick people being sent home in growing numbers and the danger they pose to their immediate friends and family. I remembered the Anthology Pavilion we put up last February in Intramuros and saw its potential as a quarantine facility for just such a purpose. We got in touch with Maj. Carmelo Jaluague and Maj. Banjo Torres Badayos and came up with a plan of action to have construction start the next day given the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. 

What is the concept behind the idea?

The main idea for this facility is speed to control the virus and flatten the curve as fast as we can before our hospitals are overwhelmed. We wanted to use materials that were easy to use, flexible, and readily available. We wanted materials that people were familiar with and with minimal knowledge most workers can start using. Since movement and logistics are difficult these days we need something that doesn’t utilize much manpower or equipment. The frames can be wood, steel, or bamboo even. 

We chose wood since it doesn’t require much equipment which is very important especially in more rural areas. We chose plastic since it is easy to maintain and is readily available. You can use old tarps even or any roll material that can be quickly put up. For the facilities to be scalable they have to be something that others can copy and build as needed quickly throughout the country. 

Describe the design of the proposed facility

The design focuses on ease of use and giving patients a comfortable environment that doesn’t make them feel like they’re in quarantine. The idea is that it should feel more like a retreat space. A place for contemplation rather than a hermetically sealed and constructed space. 

How many persons can one facility accommodate?

Each facility houses 15 beds with each patient having their own 2.4m x 2.4m space. There are separate entrances for doctors and patients and it features a testing box where doctors can check the patients without going in. Air is blown in from one end of the facility to the other with side vents along the sides to prevent air from recirculating inside the facility. 

Race against time to stem COVID-19 tide

How is the project being funded right now? 

The project is funded through donations from the private sector. 

Entities involved include WTA Architecture and Design Studio, UAP Manila Metro Chapter, Anthology Festival Foundation, and volunteers and friends from both inside and outside the architecture and construction community. 

Aside from us four founders, leaders in this initiative include Prim Paypon, Dan Quiaoit, Jason Ang, Arvin Pangilinan, Denise de Castro, Rebecca Plaza, Janys Lim, and Romel Laquian. 

Where can donors go if they are interested to participate in the project?

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