DPWH Completes Construction of COVID-19 Facilities, Gears Up for More

The Department of Public Works and Highways continues to “build, build, build” facilities to accommodate efforts in fighting COVID-19. In a press release published in the agency’s official website, Secretary Mark Villar announced that there are 150 facilities constructed and repurposed as sites for quarantine and isolation, with some off-site housing accommodations for COVID-19 frontline workers.

Nineteen facilities are recently finished, while the remaining 131 are reconfigured evacuation centers, located in different areas in the country. In the former, eleven huge buildings, labelled Mega Quarantine Facilities for having over 2,500 beds, are spread over the capital region, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, and Davao Regions. Six off-site dormitories, offering 192 beds, are in NCR. Meanwhile, both of the quarantine facilities in the capital and Eastern Visayas can accommodate 149 people.

As for the repurposed evacuation centers, Villar said that they were able to cater to over 5,000 COVID-19 patients. Considering the combined capacity of the newly built and existing buildings, over 8,000 people can benefit from the project.

Last April, the department completed the repurposing of the Philippine Arena Complex as a mega-treatment facility, in collaboration with private groups, according to PNA

Converting three huge tents into a fully-equipped medical facility, the construction team was able to include toilet facilities, medical personnel’s mess hall, disinfecting tents, supply storage area, and air conditioning system in the facility.

The department is gearing up for more development initiatives to support the fight against the pandemic.

Ongoing and Future Construction Projects

According to Villar, 111 more COVID-19 buildings are under construction. Eastern Visayas will soon see the completion of a mega quarantine facility. The capital region, Central Luzon, and Central Visayas will have 16 off-site dormitories. Central and Eastern Visayas will be able to use the 28 isolation facilities located in key areas in their regions. 

Meanwhile, 66 evacuation centers nationwide are near completion. The public works and highways department expects that these facilities can accommodate at least 4,252 patients and frontliners.

As for future developments, the office plans to build 342 more quarantine buildings nationwide and hit over 12,000 bed capacity. For off-site dormitories, they proposed 39 more, supplying 968 beds. Secretary Villar shared that they’re partnering with local government units (LGUs) and other national government offices to deliver the necessary infrastructure projects on time. 

Noting that these facilities can help ease overcrowding in hospitals, he pointed out that these can curb the worsening outbreak, even as the country gradually reopens borders to reboot the economy.

Quarantine Facilities for Every Region

Meanwhile, in the legislative branch, lawmakers express support for the bill seeking to establish regional quarantine centers in the country, as reported by Manila Bulletin

Principally authored by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., the “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020 was created as a response to the need for “efficient and effective response system” for health emergencies, such as emerging and re-emerging outbreaks.

The pending law stipulates that the isolation facilities will be fully equipped to cater to the needs of those under quarantine, such as excellent health care, and sufficient food, clothing, and means of communication.

Tasked to determine the location of every quarantine center, the Department of Health (DOH) will be partnering with the DPWH and respective LGUs. The criteria for the location is accessibility to a DOH hospital.

As for the actual construction of the buildings, the Public Works and Highways agency will be the one to oversee. They will determine the property’s specifications, considering appropriate standards, issuances, and other guidelines. They will be in partnership with LGUs.

Once completed, quarantine facilities will be turned over to the DOH for operation, supervision, and management. The pending law mandates the department to publish standard operating procedures for the buildings within 30 days of the measure’s effectivity.

Funds for the construction and maintenance of the isolation center will be under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

In preparation for the passing of the bill, the DPWH and DOH were urged to be ready with construction plans and train personnel to operate the COVID-19 centers, according to MSN. With strong backing from lawmakers, the pending bill is likely to be passed soon.

Sources: DPWH, PNA, Manila Bulletin, MSN

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