Manila gov’t wants 6-month ‘elbow room’ before dismantling COVID field hospital

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2022 04:07 PM

 A health worker collects a “get well soon” balloon along with other food and supply packages for patients admitted at the Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital located at the Quirino Grandstand on January 12, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/Fil
A health worker collects a “get well soon” balloon along with other food and supply packages for patients admitted at the Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital located at the Quirino Grandstand on January 12, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

CEBU CITY – The local government of Manila is asking the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) to allow its COVID-19 field hospital to stay at Luneta Park for 6 more months, even if the number of cases has declined in recent months.

The agreement allowing the local government to use a portion of Luneta to build a COVID-19 facility lapsed last week, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso told reporters on the sidelines of his presidential campaign here.

"Sinulatan na kami ng NPDC na baklasin na," he said.

"Nakikisuyo na kami na kung pupuwede, magkaroon tayo ng elbow room for 6 months [kasi] hindi naman natin masasabi kung tapos na ’yung COVID-19."

The local government began constructing the temporary P154-million field hospital in April 2021 after the Philippines experienced a surge in coronavirus cases last year.

The facility, completed in 2 months, can accommodate up to 336 COVID-19 patients, and was used as a quarantine facility for overseas Filipino workers who returned to the Philippines during the pandemic.

"While we all agree ... na medyo na-manage na 'yung COVID, but the other side of the coin is COVID-19 infection started with one and we still have a few thousands in the country," Domagoso said.

"It's hard to build the COVID hospital facility kaya ako nakikiusap sa NPDC kung pupwede i-extend muna ’yung aming paggamit sa lote ... para handa pa rin tayo."

So far, there are no patients admitted at the Luneta field hospital as Manila's COVID-19 cases dropped to "about less than 100," he said.

The Mayor said he has yet to read a response from the NPDC.

Health officials earlier said that the occupancy of intensive care units (ICU) in the capital region is "plateauing."

As of April 4, the occupancy rate of COVID-19 ward beds nationwide was at 18.4 percent or 4,543 out of 24,678 beds utilized, according to the Department of Health. 

ICU occupancy rate nationwide was at 25.7 percent or 807 out of 3,138 beds utilized, DOH data showed.