New Clark City eyed as a major hub for COVID-19 quarantine facilities
Similar to how New Clark City sparked conversations and both positive and negative feedback during the construction of its first phase, the COVID-19 outbreak has led the public into wondering how this government major hub project is contributing to the current situation and what plans of action are being implemented to make use of the 9450-hectare development.
In a phone call with BluPrint this afternoon, Bases and Conversion Development Authority President Vince Dizon shared that Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, the chief implementer of the government’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 under the National Action Plan, called to repurpose various government facilities into quarantine centers, with New Clark City considered as a major hub under the national network of facilities.
Athletes’ Village as temporary quarantine centers
With Clark International Airport passengers stranded due to the Luzon lockdown, BCDA provided buses that brought them straight to The Mansion Hotel. Repatriates, on the other hand, were brought to New Clark City. Dizon states that more than 40 people stayed in the Athletes’ Village in early February when the news on COVID-19 broke due to the case in Wuhan. According to him, the latest batch of repatriates from the MV Grand Princess cruise ship is 444. 441 of them were able to leave yesterday, March 30, 2020, after completing the 14-day quarantine. The three others were sent to Mariveles, Bataan and are now considered as persons under investigation.
The set up was one person per room, with food being delivered to each room and medical personnel doing daily checkups. No athletes are staying in the village now, as all of them were sent home after the Southeast Asian Games. Doctors, nurses, and medical staff attending to Filipinos and repatriates in the Athletes’ Village are housed in the government residences and are provided with food and other necessities. “What’s good about this set up is that the entire area is already contained and facilities are at a walking distance from each other,” Dizon says. He shares that they also partnered with Clark Development Corporation to provide housing for front liners in the nearby areas by communicating with hotels within Clark Airbase.
Future plans for NGAC facilities
The National Government Administrative Center (NGAC) where the Athletic Stadium and Aquatics Center are located remain closed up to this day. When asked about BCDA’s plan for these, Dizon said that they are focusing more on developing enclosed facilities to address the COVID-19 outbreak. “We are currently developing the two government buildings into a COVID-19 hospital. We’re doing this to assist the two major hospitals in Clark, Medical City Clark and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Medical Center. We will be ready in two weeks or less.” All seven floors of each of the government buildings will be used. Dizon shares that along with the plan to make NCC a major hub is the conversion of the ASEAN Convention Center as a healthcare facility that can house 300 persons under monitoring.
The UP-PGH polyclinic will also be ready for health emergencies. Dizon shares that once utilized, provincial and regional department health officials will monitor this. “The idea here is to allow our hospitals breathing room and bring the PUIs and PUMs in New Clark City.” In the event that the number of COVID-19 cases does not deplete, the Athletic Stadium will be utilized as a space for quarantine patients, with BCDA looking at WTA Design Studio’s design for quarantine tents. Architect Royal Pineda of BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Design, who designed New Clark City’s Phase 1 facilities, suggests that the Aquatics Center can serve as another auxiliary building for the medical offices and staff. “It has the proper distance from other isolation facilities making it distant yet still adjacent for medical service. It can also be the control point in entering the complex.”
The promise was to make New Clark City smart, sustainable, green, and disaster-resilient. Asked how the city can serve as a major hub that future urban spaces can look to in case of other pandemics, Dizon implies that the current situation may be just the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise. “This is where the whole point of resiliency and preparedness of public facilities come to prove that they can serve various purposes.”
Images courtesy of Bases and Conversion Development Authority