Architectural landmark PICC is among DPWH’s selected COVID-19 quarantine centers

Asia’s first convention center plays host to patients as forum halls transition to quarantine centers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • April 1, 2020

  • Written by Gabrielle de la Cruz

  • Images courtesy of PICC website

About two months since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the Philippines, the Department of Health announced that the country now holds a record of 2311 cases as of 4:00 PM today, April 1, 2020. The statistics reveal that there have already been 96 deaths and 50 recoveries, with 6321 persons under monitoring and 1101 persons under investigation.

With several hospitals and most healthcare facilities in Metro Manila saturated to maximum capacity due to the surge of patients, Department of Public Works and Highways issued a memo on the conversion of selected government buildings as quarantine centers to control the virus spread and take the PUIs and the PUMs out of the communities. Included in the list is the iconic Philippine International Convention Center. 

Designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin and constructed in 1974, the Philippine International Convention Center holds more than 70,000 square meters of flooring area and five building modules. The PICC Forum Halls, which will be converted as temporary quarantine centers, have a total usable area of 4000 square meters. It is capable of housing more than 200 standard exhibition booths and can accommodate up to 3000 delegates in a theatre-style arrangement. According to DPWH, forum halls 1 to 3 can collectively cater to an estimate of 630 patients. Hospital architect Dan Lichauco who is working on the conversion of PICC shares that the entire forum tent will be used, including its VIP Lounge and secretariat room. Lichauco says that the materials that they are using are readily available. “The lockdown makes it difficult to resource goods, materials, and even people so we are doing with what we have.” He adds that various companies and government agencies are pooling in to make this possible. 

In the memo released by DPWH this morning, Secretary Mark A. Villar said that DPWH, EEI Corporation, and Villar Group of Companies are working to accomplish the redesigning of PICC’s forum halls into a COVID-19 facility within a period of two weeks. Lichauco shares that they started the design on Monday, March 30, 2020, and were able to finalize the plans today. According to him, the capability of existing buildings to be repurposed as quarantine centers and/or treatment centers are almost the same given that their structurals are ready. However, he emphasizes that not all structures will be at par with healthcare architecture standards. “For mild cases such as those that require tanked oxygen therapy, these can be utilized. Treatment centers become a bit complicated once pressurization and gas connection requirements come in.” 

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Secretary Villar said that the immediate conversion of the PICC forum “will significantly provide an optimal isolation space” to monitor patients infected by the novel coronavirus. “Once the conversion of forum halls is fully completed, operation of PICC’s temporary health facility for treatment and monitoring of patients experiencing mild respiratory symptoms shall be under the supervision of the DOH.” Lichauco says that once the pandemic is over, it will probably take one week to remove the temporary set up for PICC to return to normal operations. 

PICC forum hall as quarantine centers

Along with PICC in the list of DPWH’S identified COVID-19 quarantine centers are the World Trade Center in Pasay and the Rizal Memorial Complex in Manila. Lichauco will also work on the conversion of Rizal Memorial Sports Complex along with Razon Group. DPWH said that the Ayala Development Corporation and Makati Development Corporation already committed to undertake the development of the World Trade Center and that they will accredit construction workers to work on the three selected facilities. 

READ MORE: New Clark City eyed as a major hub for COVID-19 quarantine facilities

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