Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the national action plan versus Covid-19. (Source: Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)

The government is set to shift to a strategy of forced quarantines ahead of an expected influx of Covid-19 infections because of ramped-up testing.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Action Plan versus the Covid-19 pandemic, said gymnasiums, convention centers, sport complexes, and hotels in Metro Manila will be converted into “forced quarantine areas.”

The initial list of facilities includes:

  • Rizal Memorial Sports Complex;
  • World Trade Center;
  • Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex;
  • Philippine International Convention Center (PICC);
  • Philippine Arena; and
  • Philippine Sports Complex or ULTRA.

Because of the Department of Health’s (DOH) “increased capacity to conduct tests,” the number of confirmed cases as well as persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) will increase, Galvez said.

“DOH, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and Philippine National Police medical personnel will handle the PUIs and PUMs in the converted facilities. The AFP can provide more than 1,500 cat beds, while more beds can be sourced out through donations or emergency procurement,” he said.

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“The conversion of the Rizal Coliseum and the World Trade Center will be completed soon. Moreover, the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) is also prepared to expand the capacity of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and other Covid-19 designated hospitals,” Galvez said.

The ex-military chief cited the “urgent need” to reinforce the DOH’s capacity to do tests and deliver health care services nationwide, repeating earlier announcements that the government was expecting the delivery of one million sets of personal protective equipment or PPEs.

“We are now prioritizing the stockpiling of PPEs which are most essential for our medical frontliners. We will purchase around 500,000 to one million PPEs. The first delivery will be on March 31,” Galvez said.

“DOH is also hastening the accreditation of more Covid-19 capable hospitals, as well as the construction of additional extension tents which will be critical as the DOH ramps up its capacity for massive testing,” he added.

In addition, the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) will provide 4,000 hotel rooms for the use of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The Department of Transportation and Philippine Coast Guard, in coordination with shipping companies, will provide “floating vessels” to be used as quarantine areas for returning seafarers, Galvez said.

The Philippines has repatriated some 12,000 foreigners, while the remaining 2,000 were awaiting flights to their respective countries, Galvez said. (