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“Field hospitals” not stricter quarantine protocols, key vs. COVID-19

Senator Win Gatchalian called on the government to seriously consider the construction of field hospitals to augment and increase the capacity of hospitals accommodating COVID-19 positive patients.


QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The state-run Lung Center of the Philippines, 12 May 2020, reached the full capacity of intensive care unit (ICU) beds dedicated to severe and critical cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Inquirer reported on July 15. However, Senator Win Gatchalian said there are Filipino architects that have designed low-cost Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQFs), which can accommodate 15 beds, an external testing box, dedicated disinfecting spaces, and lavatory facilities which were even in other countries such as Singapore and Myanmar. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

“Most hospitals now have reached full capacity of their COVID-19 dedicated beds. We cannot just sit back and remain idle while COVID-19 cases continue to spread throughout the country,” Gatchalian said.

“We’ve practically done everything by the book except for the option of having makeshift hospitals strictly dedicated to COVID-19 positive cases, for those with mild to severe cases,” the senator added.

According to Gatchalian, there are Filipino architects that have made noble efforts to design low-cost Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQFs), which can accommodate 15 beds, an external testing box, dedicated disinfecting spaces, and lavatory facilities. He pointed out that the Filipino-designed EQFs were even used to build facilities in other countries, such as Singapore and Myanmar.

“Instead of going back to MECQ or ECQ, let’s expand our healthcare system. MECQ or ECQ is a very painful methodology for our constituents. I would rather address the health system so that our medical facilities will not be overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases. This is one strategy that I’ve seen in different countries with COVID-19 success stories, which I haven’t seen done here in the country,” the lawmaker pointed out.

“Looking at socioeconomic numbers such as hunger, unemployment, business – the country’s economy will be put in a dire situation if we go back to stricter quarantine rules. Marami tayong mga kababayan who will regress to poverty,” he stressed.

The number of COVID-19 cases already breached the 80,000 mark. Gatchalian said he had broached the idea of “field hospitals” to the National Task Force (NTF), COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. and discussed the feasibility of putting up field hospitals in key areas to contain cases of cross-contamination.

“Lahat ng World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations ginagawa na natin, pati ang National Task Force ginagawa na rin ang lahat. We just have to prepare for the worst dahil ginawa naman nila ang lahat ng nasa WHO playbook,” he said.

With this in mind, Gatchalian suggests for the government to try a different strategy to stop the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, which is to address the country’s problematic health system.