The Rizal Memorial Coliseum, the Philippine International Convention Center and World Trade Center Metro Manila are due to open this week as community quarantine facilities for COVID-19, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said after visiting the sites Monday. The three sites are among several sports complexes and convention centers being converted into community quarantine facilities to accommodate the rising number of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Initially, Duque said all three community quarantine facilities will admit COVID-19 positive patients who are asymptomatic or those with mild symptoms only.
“This protocol may change depending on the number of PUIs (persons under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring), “ he said.
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If a patient’s condition worsens, Duque said, he or she will be immediately taken to a hospital for proper management and treatment.
He said PICC can accommodate up to 294 patients, WTCMM can admit 502, and Rizal Memorial Coliseum can accept 112.
The PICC facility will be managed by the Philippine National Police Medical Corps while WTCMM will be managed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Both the PNP and AFP will supervise the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Duque said the DOH health care workforce will also be supporting these three quarantine facilities.
The conversion of the three quarantine facilities is a collaboration between government and private sector, composed of the DOH, Department of Public Works and Highways, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Bases Conversion Development Authority.
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The DOH also cited the public-private partnership of The Medical City and Pasig City Children’s Hospital where “moderate” COVID-19 cases will be transferred to the PCCH so that more advanced facilities in TMC can be used to attend to severe cases.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire and TMC CEO Dr. Eugenio Jose F. Ramos discussed how TMC will serve as the acute care center for severe COVID cases while the PCCH’s 63-bed capacity will take care of mild to moderate adult cases.
She said staffing adjustments will also be made to facilitate the arrangement.
The pediatrics staff of PCCH will be transferred to other hospitals for non-COVID cases. Adult medical doctor frontliners from other Pasig hospitals will be asked to be part of the PCCH, which will be designated as the Pasig City COVID Hospital.
“Many of our hospitals expressed interest in replicating this partnership in their areas,” Vergeire said.
The Health department on Monday appealed to the public not to discriminate against patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or health care workers.
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The DOH warned that discrimination and the stigma against patients may encourage people to hide being COVID-positive, which would in turn compromise the country’s efforts towards effective case isolation and treatment.
In other developments:
• Senator Juan Edgardo Angara was sent home Monday after being declared pneumonia-free and negative for COVID-19. Angara, who spent several days in the emergency room and the COVID-19 wing, was the third senator to test positive for the novel coronavirus.
Twelve Chinese medical experts arrived in Manila Monday to help the Philippines in its fight against COVID-19. Duque said the Chinese doctors will share what they learned in handling COVID-19 cases with Filipino medical professionals. “They have a lot of good practices when they managed their COVID-19 patients in Wuhan and Hubei,” Duque said. The Chinese team is scheduled to visit Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, the Lung Center of the Philippines, San Lazaro Hospital and quarantine facilities. They brought with them 5,000 pieces of personal protection equipment, 300,000 surgical masks, 30,000 medical N95 masks, 5,000 medical protective face shields and 30 non-invasive ventilators from the Chinese government.
The IATF encouraged people under the Luzon-wide lockdown to use improvised face masks whenever they go out of their homes. The government last week required everyone covered by the month-long community quarantine to wear any facial protective gear that can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
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Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman for the IATF, said the Philippines will begin local production of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPEs) next week to ensure ample supply for health workers. The government can produce 10,000 PPEs with the help of member-companies of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines, Nograles said.
The Quezon City government on Monday announced the recovery of at least eight COVID-19 patients in two city-run facilities. In an official statement, it said four of the recovered patients were from the Hope-1 facility headed by Dr. Vince Mendoza. The other four persons who were able to recover were also recorded at the Quezon City General Hospital, led by director Dr. Josephine Sabando. Sabando said three of the four recovered patients at QCGH were elderly.
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