Press Release
March 29, 2020

Gatchalian urges LGUs to put up isolation facilities, makeshift hospitals to contain COVID-19 spread

As the country sees the increasing number of Filipinos contracting the deadly coronavirus, Senator Win Gatchalian has urged all Local Government Units (LGUs) to set up makeshift hospitals and isolation tents where patients with mild symptoms can be isolated and mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.

Gatchalian proposed that these temporary facilities be set up in wide, well-ventilated, and covered spaces like gymnasia, where tents can serve as isolation areas for persons under investigation (PUIs) and those who are recovering from the disease. He said that schools, dormitories and hotels can also be utilized as isolation areas.

Gatchalian warned that hospitals are now overwhelmed with the spike in COVID-19 cases straining medical facilities and triggering some to turn away patients. In Quezon City for instance, three patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were sent home because the facilities where they were supposed to be confined did not have enough space.

The lawmaker cited the example of Wuhan, China, formerly the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, which had 16 makeshift hospitals that treated 13,000 patients. These facilities have closed following a plunge in Wuhan's cases. South Korea, for its part, solved its bed shortage problem by reserving hospital beds for the acutely ill while putting less sick patients in dormitories. The lawmaker added that these would also help hospitals prioritize admission for severely ill patients.

"Kailangang manguna ang ating mga lokal na pamahalaan sa mga hakbang na tulad nito. Kung titingnan natin ang halimbawa ng ibang bansa, makikita natin na posible pala ang paglalagay ng mga pansamantalang pagamutan upang matulungan nating gumaling ang mas marami pang positibo ng COVID-19," explained Gatchalian.

Gatchalian also touted Valenzuela's centralized isolation facilities at the Balai Banyuhay and Valenzuela Astrodome, which has modular tents and military cots for patient use. Balai Banyuhay, the city's unused drug rehabilitation and treatment facility, has 100 beds.

Gatchalian then called on the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to ensure that all barangays comply with its directive to establish "Barangay Isolation Units" (BIUs) and mobilize Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT).

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