The measures and regulations being undertaken by various communities around the Philippines in response to the rise of the 2019 novel coronavirus can be somewhat variable in vigilance and stringency. It needs to be reminded that the arrival of people suspected to be infected with COVID-19 in GenSan over the first two months of 2020 was what spurred the local government to scrap plans for this year’s Kalilangan celebration, though examination proved said persons under investigation (PUI) or patients under monitoring (PUM) were disproven to be carrying the virus. The city cannot be too careful however, so steps are being made regarding where to confine and isolate suspected coronavirus patients.

According to the Philippine News Agency, the GenSan LGU has decided upon a particular location wherein PUIs and PUMs with suspected symptoms of the novel coronavirus could be quarantined by medical specialists until their conditions are confirmed or cleared. This would be the city’s regional evacuation center, an area designated at Barangay Buayan where evacuees could gather in case of natural disasters. Said center contains buildings with multipurpose halls that could be reconfigured into wards for suspected COVID-19 carriers to either wait out their quarantine periods or confine them in isolation should they be proven to be ill of it.

Plans for converting the Buayan evacuation center into a coronavirus isolation facility, similar to the transformation of the 2019 SEA Games Athlete’s Village in New Clark City, were revealed by GenSan City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMO) chief Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr. on Tuesday, March 10. He notes that such preparations are necessary to prepare city medical personnel in handling possible and confirmed COVID-19 cases in the community. The original proposed facility, Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital, was not considered because its Level 1 status meant it lacked options for an isolation ward.

Nevertheless, while the regional evacuation center in Buayan is undergoing its refitting, the government-run Royeca Hospital will be providing an initial novel coronavirus isolation area within its grounds, by means of a medical tent donated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Here, persons who have confirmed symptoms of COVID-19 can be housed until the converted isolation facility is ready to receive them. The hospital buildings itself can at least handle processing of persons under investigation and patients under monitoring, but not take in confirmed cases for fear of forcing a hospital lockdown.

The first suspected coronavirus case within GenSan was reported on January 29. Since then two PUIs have been logged, with one cleared without symptoms according to Dr. Lalaine Calonzo. Another 14 people designated PUMs were cleared following no confirmed COVID-19 symptoms after 14 days’ quarantine.

Image courtesy of RMN

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