MANILA – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar on Wednesday said they are looking to open this week one of three venues set to be converted into temporary health facilities for the treatment and monitoring of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients.
“By this week, we anticipate, gusto na namin gawing operational ang Rizal (Memorial) Sports Complex (We want the Rizal Sports Complex to be operational) within this week,” DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said in a television interview.
In particular, the agency wants to operationalize the Ninoy Aquino Stadium located inside the sports complex that can house 112 patients.
Villar said the conversion of the other two venues, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum Halls and the World Trade Center (WTC) both located in Pasay City is expected to be completed within 10 days.
Both venues have a predicted capacity of 824 patients.
“Hopefully in 10 days, at most. Ang target talaga kasi namin is less than 10 days kasi para ma-open agad ang mga facilities natin (Our target is less than 10 days because we want to open the facilities immediately),” he added.
Villar said the project is in coordination with the private sector, thus, it will be of minimal cost to the government.
“DPWH, EEI and Villar Group of Companies is working to accomplish the redesigning and conversion of Forum Halls 1 to 3 into COVID facility within two weeks period,” he said in a statement.
Villar added that once the conversion of Forum Halls is fully completed, its operation will be for treatment and monitoring of patients experiencing mild respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, colds, etc.) shall be under the supervision of the Department of Health.
“As most of health facilities in Metro Manila have reached or nearing maximum capacity, the immediate conversion of PICC Forum Halls will significantly provide an optimal isolation space for monitoring of people infected by Covid-19. We want to decongest the hospitals,” he added.
As directed by the National Task Force Covid-19, the DPWH will accredit construction workers who will work on the three facilities identified for purposes of quarantine or isolation. Such accredited workers shall be provided with quarantine pass to be exempted from the government’s strict home quarantine policy.
Villar added that the agency is also looking at other venues that may be converted to health facilities.
“May open area ang Cultural Center of the Philippines complex and Rizal (Memorial Sports Complex), may open grounds kung kailangan ng additional (facilities). Madali naman magtayo ng tent, madagdagan ang capacity kaagad. Ready kami, ginagawa lahat para ma-augment facilities natin pero sana naman ayaw din natin na sana hindi na umabot pa na dapat kailangan natin gamitin ang lahat infrastructures pero at least, ready kami sa lahat ng scenarios (The Cultural Center of the Philippines complex has an open area. The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex has open grounds which can serve as additional facilities. It’s easy to build tents so we can immediately increase capacity. We are ready. We are doing everything to augment the facilities but we also do not want a scenario where we need to use all infrastructures. But at least, we are ready for everything,” he added. (PNA)