The Department of Public Works and Highways turned over to the Bacolod City government more isolation/quarantine rooms Friday, March 12.
The project, that was lobbied for by Mayor Evelio Leonardia last year for mild to moderate COVID-19 patients, was built at the City’s property at Brgy. Alijis.
The first 32 rooms were finished and turned over to the city government in October 2020.
Leonardia, speaking at the turnover ceremony, said that, notwithstanding the current trend of low COVID-19 cases in Bacolod City, this facility will remain useful as we are still in a pandemic and these structures will continue to be “relevant, meaningful, and useful” because “we can never tell” how this virus will behave in the coming months.
Leonardia said: “Until the time when almost or all of us will be vaccinated, I don’t think that we can rest. In a pandemic, there is no room for complacency—and we are still in a pandemic.”
Records of the Department of Health regional office (DOH-6) showed Bacolod had zero cases daily on March 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12. Meanwhile, Bacolod had only one case each on March 2 and 3; and two cases on March 11.
“That [low cases] is something to celebrate. But if some will ask, ‘What will you do with these isolation centers here because ‘wala naman COVID?’ the answer is ‘No, COVID is still there. Let this be a reminder that COVID is still here’,” the mayor added.
To underscore his point, Leonardia cited the spike of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila this week, wherein the mayors had to re-implement stricter protocols, such as aggressive testing and contact-tracing, to curb the fast-rising number of infections in the NCR.
“It is still raging in Manila. They will now have a uniform curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and that is an indicator that there is seriousness in the surge of COVID cases,” he added.
“Last year, Cebu City was the epicenter of the COVID cases but it was solved by Maj. Gen. Mel Feliciano and Mia Feliciano with the DOH and the Cebu City government as partners. The Feliciano couple came here to Bacolod, too, and were also able to help us solve the problem. But look at Cebu now, COVID is back there,” the mayor pointed out.
The Bacolod mayor added: “If something happens, like the ones in the past in which the cases are surging, we also adjusted and created a lot of facilities. Now, we have stability because of these additional facilities. We are going to make some standards, requirements, and criteria, with the help of the doctors, on who can utilize this facility.”
Leonardia stressed: “Although our COVID cases are now low, I hope that it will not somehow make us think that we are already secured. Let us not have that wrong sense of security and stability because there is no guarantee yet.”
He also warned: “We have to consider the fact and reality that there is still not enough vaccines for us. We are still in the stage of precaution and a precarious position that if you are not careful, you can never tell what will happen next with COVID.”
Leonardia, Rep. Greg Gasataya, and DPWH-6 regional director Engr. Lea Delfinado led the ribbon-cutting, signing, and turnover ceremonies of the additional 32-room isolation/quarantine facility.
DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain and Delfinado had been instrumental in getting the project for the City realized after DPWH Secretary Mark Villar acceded to the lobby of Leonardia.
The whole project has 4 container-type isolation sets. Each set comes with 16 rooms furnished with individual air conditioners and comfort rooms, a nurse’s station, a utility room, separate medical staff quarters with comfort rooms for male and female, sanitation area, water tanks, and standby generator.
Gasataya said that as one of the co-authors of Bayanihan Act I and Bayanihan Act II, he is thankful that the laws they passed had borne fruit.
“The quarantine facility in Bacolod City is one example of this kind of law which we approved in Congress,” he added.*