The Iglesia ni Cristo’s Philippine Arena in Bulacan

The Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor arena, is ready to house possible carriers of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a government official confirmed Friday.

Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), the owner of the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, has granted to temporarily transform the arena to a mega-quarantine facility and aid suspected patients in Central Luzon, according to Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and CEO Vince Dizon during the Laging Handa briefing.

“Ang Philippine Arena ay magiging isang mega-quarantine facility sa Central Luzon,” he said.

The Guinness World Records recognized the arena as the largest mixed-use indoor theater.  It has a total seating capacity of 55,000. It is a fully air-conditioned, one-sided, bowl-shaped arena featuring a theatre-style stage at one end.  It operates as a multi-use church, sports and concert venue. It was commissioned by Iglesia Ni Cristo for New Era University (Philippines) and inaugurated on 21 July 2014.

Isolation rooms and sealed nurse stations are being constructed by the government in the Philippine Arena and other sports stadiums to ensure the safety inside the quarantine facilities. 

“The facilities are designed to make sure that patients are comfortable,” Daniel Lichauco, the architect who led the design team, said.

“Lahat ng ginagawa namin has a nurse system na parang sa hospital. ibig sabihin you can turn on a light para alam ng mga nurses san pupunta,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Ninoy Aquino Stadium at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, the Philippine International Convention Center, the World Trade Center, and the New Clark City, are now being transformed into “instant hospitals” to aid more COVID-19 patients. 

“Gusto po natin mapigilan ang pagdagsa ng mga ito sa mga ospital para yung mga ospital po natin ay nakatutok sa mga kritikal at severe ang sakit at pangangailangan,” Dizon added.

The national government is accelerating the construction of quarantine areas to aid the spike of new cases when the country starts mass testing for COVID-19 in 2 weeks. (RJ Espartinez)