MANILA - The Marikina City government will push through with plans to establish its own COVID-19 Testing Center as it looks for a dedicated building to comply with requirements from the Department of Health (DOH).
This after the Department of Health rejected the city's testing facility at the City Health Office as it failed standards on "space and biosafety," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.
Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro said the molecular laboratory to be put up in partnership with the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health will be transferred from the 6th floor of the City Health Office to a separate building to be identified by the city government.
"Kami naman ay umaasa ano na mapayagan tayo pagdating ng tamang panahon," Teodoro said.
(We are hopeful that we will be allowed to operate at the right time.)
The Department of Health disapproved the proposed laboratory as it was concerned about cross-infections in a shared building.
Meantime, the city government has also prepared the now idle Marikina Hotel as a quarantine area for Persons Under Monitoring or those who are asymptomatic but may have been exposed to the contagious coronavirus.
More than 30 rooms have been allotted and disinfected and ready to house PUMs who have travel history and may have been exposed to the virus.
"Andun lang sila sa loob ng kuwarto for 14 days, nasa loob ng mga kuwarto nila, hindi puwedeng lumabas dahil ito po 'yung floor na paglalagyan natin ay mayroon din pong mga guwardiya,” City Health Offier Dr. Alberto Herrera said.
(They are just in their room for 14 days, just inside their rooms, they are not allowed to go out because the floor where they are is manned by guards.)
The city government is expecting an individual who had recently traveled to the United Kingdom as the first occupant of the hotel.
The city now has 108 PUMs who are staying in their houses under strict quarantine measures, two persons under investigation (PUIs) or those who are showing symptoms, and a total of 13 positive cases, which include 2 deaths and 3 recoveries.
Hospital workers from the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center are also being housed through the help of a private entity, the Barangka Credit Cooperative which runs a now empty dormitel.
“Habang hindi namin napapaupahan, ipagamit dito para in a small way ay makatulong ang kilusang kooperatiba,” Barangka Credit Cooperative President Roberto Mascariña said.
(While we can't rent it out, we will let it be used as our small way to help.)
Among those who are staying in the air-conditioned dormitel with free shuttle services are radiologic technologists from the Amang Rodriguez hospital who live in San Mateo, Rizal.
“Malaking bagay po 'yung dorm na binigay sa amin, at least nasa iisang lugar lang kami ng team ko 'pag may duty,” rad tech Christopher Lim said.
(The dorm that was given to us is a big help, at least we're in one place when on duty.)
Another frontliner Rusty Justinbaste said they make sure they disinfect after work.
“After duty talagang maliligo po kami tapos disinfect ng mga damit, lagi kaming may alcohol na dala, at hugas ng kamay madalas,” the rad tech said.
(After duty we bathe, then we disinfect our clothes, we always carry alcohol, and we wash our hands often.)
Residents around the dormitel admitted having fears but they understand the need to house health workers who serve in the frontlines.
“Kami naman hindi maalis sa amin ang matakot pero anong gagawin namin kailangan din natin 'yan eh, kung wala sila paano kami, 'wag naman,” resident Ernesto Francisco said.
(We can't avoid being scared but what can we do, we need them, if not for them what will happen to us.)
To allay such concerns, the local government is also regularly disinfecting the premises.