UP's Palma Hall Converted to Isolation Area to Fight Off COVID-19

This time, the enemy is an actual disease.

(SPOT.ph) "Ang mga silya ay nasa fourth floor, echoing [the First Quarter Storm] and Diliman Commune, pero ang kalaban ngayon ay sakit." This is how Jem Javier, chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, described the ongoing conversion of Palma Hall into an isolation area for suspected cases of COVID-19.

Palma Hall—known to students and faculty as the Arts and Sciences building, or simply AS—will once again serve as a stronghold; the isolation facility is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday, April 22.

As of April 19, around 100 beds have already been prepared. The first announcement of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Social Sciences and Philosophy was on Friday, April 17. The main building's lobby—which we're pretty sure you must have hung out in once, UP student or not—will be refitted as an isolation area. First-floor classrooms will also be used, while the second and third-floor ones may be included, depending on the need.

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"We are not returning to our physical classes for the rest of the semester and the midyear, this will not constitute a risk to our students, faculty, and staff members," noted the college in their statement. Twelve custodians will be staying on to help with the setup of the isolation area while protective equipment has been ordered for security guards; all will receive a hazard pay. Only the main entrance will be used to control the flow of people.

Once operations begin, professional janitorial services will step in to maintain the facility while a cleaning company, the Sanitary Anti-Viral Entry Point, has been tapped to disinfect the area. The AS parking lot—the usual scene for concerts, food stalls, and a variety of other usual student activities—is also being eyed for the University Health Service’s swabbing-slash-testing area.

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Quezon City accounts for 1,062 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The local government has come under fire for their response to the disease but this isolation facility is one of the many ways people have stepped up. Palma Hall is one of those places that have always been part of change, and this time "sa halip na magtaboy ng manunupil," Javier continued,"[Ang AS] ay tatanggap ng mga nangangailangan."

Main image from Juliennary / Wikimedia Commons

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