Press Release
April 21, 2021

Gatchalian on schools as isolation facilities: build more quarantine centers, field hospitals

While there are more than a thousand public schools currently serving as isolation facilities, Senator Win Gatchalian urged the national government to accelerate the construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals to ease the burden on the country's health care system.

According to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, using schools as isolation facilities—or evacuation centers in times of natural disasters—is not sustainable and does not foster a culture of safety in the basic education system. He pointed out that before the pandemic, the prolonged use of school facilities in times of disasters tends to delay the resumption of classes.

In other countries, field hospitals are installed to strengthen health care systems' capacity in managing COVID-19 cases. Thailand recently announced plans to put up 10,000 field hospital beds following a new surge of COVID-19 infections. Last year, up to 13,000 patients were treated in 16 temporary hospitals in Wuhan, China, which used to be the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, Valenzuela City also put up centralized isolation facilities at the Balai Banyuhay and Valenzuela Astrodome, which has modular tents and military cots for patient use. Balai Banyuhay is a drug rehabilitation and treatment facility in the city.

"Ang mabilis na pagpapatayo ng mga field hospitals at mga quarantine centers ang isang paraan upang mabigyan natin ng agarang atensyon ang mga kababayan nating nagkakasakit. Imbes na masanay tayong gumamit ng mga paaralan bilang isolation facilities o evacuation centers, ang dapat nating tiyakin ay ang pagkakaroon ng sapat at angkop na mga pasilidad para sa mga nangangailan ng tulong medikal," said Gatchalian.

The lawmaker also pitched anew his proposal to build an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the country, which is the objective of Senate Bill No. 747 filed in 2019. Under the proposed measure, these evacuation centers will provide temporary accommodation for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergencies, including the outbreak of illnesses and diseases.

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