Last week it was confirmed that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is mobilizing to temporarily convert several large structures into emergency care facilities and quarantine centers for the ongoing coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.

Event halls like the Philippine International Convention Center and sports complexes like Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Philsports Arena, and even the Iglesia Ni Cristo's Philippine Arena (and the surrounding estate) are all being transformed to become quarantine facilities to be opened as soon as possible.

Another facility is very familiar to us: it's the World Trade Center Manila in Pasay City. It's the venue for the country's largest motor shows: the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) and the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS).

World Trade Center image

Interestingly enough, MIAS was originally slated to be held from April 2 to 5, which was this past weekend. But in anticipation of a lockdown that would have banned large gatherings (like a motor show), the organizers had already decided to postpone the event as a precaution prior to the start of the community quarantine and subsequent enhanced community quarantine.

And so here are the first images of WTC Manila that we acquired from Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo of the DPWH's Build Build Build committee showing the transformation from an empty trade show hall that was supposed to be used for the motor show into a quarantine site more akin to a field hospital.

Together with Ayala Development Corporation and the Makati Development Corporation, the DPWH is making good progress in converting the main hall into a COVID-19 facility. They have erected a total of 502 cubicles to be able to isolate patients, and they were able to achieve a lot in just 5 days since the work began.

The layout will also have certain areas designated depending on patient status: confirmed, PUI, or PUM. The areas will be color-coded so as to avoid further transmission. There will also be sterile areas where front liners can don their PPEs and decontamination areas as well afterwards.

World Trade Center image

In a separate report, the management of WTC Manila said that a medical team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be managing operations of the facility. Ayala's Manila Water will be installing portable toilets to prepare. According to the CEO of the company that owns and operates WTC Manila, the huge electricity bill for the facility (big halls consume a lot of power in lighting and airconditioning) will be shouldered by both Meralco and Ayala Corporation.

The conversion of existing facilities like WTC into quarantine areas is part of a larger effort to decongest the current healthcare network and hospitals. Other countries are also performing similar tasks; the venue for the Detroit motor show in the US has also been converted into a field hospital by their government.

The DPWH is also looking at other facilities nationwide, though such further action will not be necessary once the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 contagion has been managed, limited, and hopefully stopped.