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Business tycoons help set up temporary COVID-19 treatment, testing centers

/ 04:45 AM April 04, 2020

The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila will be partly turned into a COVID-19 treatment facility while part of Philippine Red Cross (PRC) head office in Mandaluyong City will be converted into a new COVID-19 testing center, thanks to local tycoons.

Businessman Manuel Villar Jr. has teamed up with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Yuchengco-led construction firm EEI Corp. to convert in 10 days part of the PICC into a much-needed COVID-19 treatment and monitoring facility that can accommodate about 630 patients.

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Property giant Ayala Land Inc., led by Fernando and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, is transforming the mezzanine of the PRC’s head office in Mandaluyong City into a new COVID-19 testing center that can process nearly 3,000 tests per day and produce results within two hours.

“In these challenging times, I would like to give you the firm assurance of our companies’ commitment to extend help in whichever way we can and converting the PICC to a health facility in the fastest time we can is just one of them,” said Villar, chair and founder of the Villar Group of Companies and father of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.

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Halls 1 to 3 of the PICC will be converted into a facility for COVID-19 persons under monitoring and persons under investigation.

Once completed, operation of the PICC’s temporary health facility for treatment and monitoring of patients experiencing mild respiratory symptoms will be under the supervision of the Department of Health.

The Ayala Group, on the other hand, will convert the mezzanine area of the PRC head office into a class 2 testing facility to help identify people carrying the virus, isolate and treat them, thereby containing the spread.

PRC will operate the testing center.

The Red Cross facility will use two reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction machines and an automated ribonucleic acid extraction machine to process samples for COVID-19 testing.

“The construction of the COVID-19 testing facility reinforces the Ayala Group’s commitment to help contain the spread of the virus in the country,” Ayala Land said.

Aside from the PICC, other temporary treatment centers identified by the DPWH are the World Trade Center in Pasay City and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium at the Rizal Memorial Complex in Manila.

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The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has switched on the power supply to these three temporary COVID-19 treatment centers, the cost for which the distribution giant is sharing with San Miguel, Ayala and Razon groups.

Meralco said in a statement that it was working around the clock to ensure the immediate development of an enhanced electrical system for these treatment centers.

“The immediate conversion of the three facilities into health centers is crucial, and we will do our part by ensuring fast, adequate and safe energization,” Meralco president and chief executive officer Ray Espinosa said.

Meralco and the Ayala Group will cover the electricity costs for the World Trade Center health facility’s electricity consumption.

Along with the Razon Group, Meralco will also shoulder the electricity costs of the Ninoy Aquino Stadium while for the PICC health facility, Meralco will share the electricity bills with the San Miguel group. —Ronnel W. Domingo

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TAGS: business tycoon, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 Philippines, dpwh, Quarantine, Villar, Yuchengco
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