Several news sites reported on the announcement of mass testing for suspected COVID-19 patients, spurring a variety of discussions online. Many speculate that the number of persons under investigation and persons under monitoring will increase after conducting the tests. As of 5:00 PM today, April 6, 2020, the Department of Health reported 3,660 confirmed cases, with 163 deaths and 73 recoveries. The number of persons under investigation and persons under monitoring is currently being updated.
To assist hospitals in focusing more on critical and medical care, the Department of Public Works and Highways, along with other public and private sectors, worked on the conversion of selected government buildings and public spaces into ‘instant hospitals’. Each of the selected buildings and spaces will be temporarily used as a COVID-19 quarantine facility, including the Ninoy Aquino Basketball Stadium inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
Hospital architect Dan Lichauco says that both the design and construction of the stadium started last Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Gypsum was used as the primary shell of the COVID-19 quarantine facility, which is often used as a surface material. The application of gypsum is prominent in wall construction. As per the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), the stadium will be ready to accommodate PUIs and PUMs on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, exactly a week after its construction.
The design of the COVID-19 quarantine facility primarily focuses on the stadium’s arena, with the 6,000 seats surrounding it left untouched. Lichauco shares that the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex’s secured entrances make it an ideal facility to convert. “Since the patients who will be staying here are all COVID-19 positive, we are only worried about the air leaving the facility. We have makeshift airlocks in all entrances and exits. Airlocks are positive pressure.” Positive pressure works for these types of settings because it maintains a higher pressure inside the treated area than that of the surrounding environment. In this case, air can leave the room without circulating back in, meaning that germs, particles, and other potential contaminants in the surrounding environment will not enter the area. The arena has been transformed into a COVID-19 quarantine facility that can hold 112 PUIs and PUMs.
BCDA states that Ninoy Aquino Basketball Stadium will be manned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Corps once it starts operating as a COVID-19 quarantine facility. The government sector guarantees that free food will be provided for both patients and front liners in all the converted quarantine facilities. Lichauco is also working on the recently renovated Rizal Memorial Coliseum, saying that they started the design last Friday, April 3, 2020, and will probably finish construction within 10 days. Also included in DPWH’s list of selected facilities is the World Trade Center, which is being lent by its private owners to the cause.