MANILA — Preparations are underway for the conversion of the University of the Philippines-Diliman's Kamia Residence Hall as a temporary isolation facility for mild and asymptomatic COVID cases.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Prof. Loujaye Sonido, UP Diliman's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said the Philippine Red Cross approached them and asked if they have an available area that can be used as an isolation facility, and the university readily agreed to help.
Sonido said the Kamia Residence Hall has been in the university since 1958 and was recently renovated. The last time students lived in the dorm was before the pandemic.
"Maganda rin na dormitoryo instead na classrooms kasi mas handa siya. As accommodation facility, as housing facility, mas handa siya talaga in terms of restrooms, in terms of layout," she explained.
(The dormitories are better than classrooms because it can be better prepared.)
The dormitory has 98 rooms, which has "enough moving space" for 2 beds each, separated by a divider.
Setting aside the rooms that will be used for the staff and other medical needs, the dormitory has a bed space of 185.
If deemed necessary, bigger rooms in the dormitory, like study halls, could also be converted to accommodate patients.
Sonido said strict health protocols and disinfection are also in place to protect patients and healthcare workers.
Personnel of the isolation facility have also been vaccinated.
"As far as I've heard from PRC, they're all vaccinated naman. Iyong mga tutugon talaga, iyong mga on the ground doon, they're vaccinated. If we will be providing support personnel, definitely we will also ask, pakibakunahan din," she added.
(Those who will respond on the ground are already vaccinated. We will also ask the government to vaccinate those who will provide additional support)
The official assured the public that converting the dormitory into an isolation facility would not affect preparations for the "safe return to schools" of students, faculty, and school personnel.
The state-run university, she added, is also monitoring coronavirus-related developments and would ask at least a month of preparation should schools reopen.
"Hindi din naman natin isusugal iyong students natin kung hindi pa safe. So there's no use na kumbaga not sharing these facilities that are there and they're really there because UP has a public service mandate," said Sonido.
(We will not sacrifice the students most especially if it is not safe yet.)
Sonido emphasized that the isolation facility might be operational on Monday, as preparations are still ongoing, like the installation of equipment and internet connection.
Earlier, the PRC announced that "unused classrooms in Ateneo, UP, De La Salle, and Adamson" would serve as temporary isolation facilities to aid in its shortage due to the surge of COVID-19 infections in the past few weeks.