IC3 will no longer be an isolation center

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | January 21,2022 - 09:46 PM


Bayanihan Cebu

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The IEC Convention Center Cebu (IC3) will no longer be an isolation center despite earlier plans to transform it into an isolation facility.

The facility should have had 300 beds and would cater to Cebuanos in need of isolation regardless of residency.

Yet on January 21, 2022, Doctor Mary Jean Loreche, the chief pathologist of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), announced that the isolation facility will not push through.

“We have been planning this for two months already. Construction has commenced and this was supposed to be ready by end of the week kasi nga in time of the surge of cases. But because of uncontrolled circumstances, this will not push through. So mawawala po itong Bayanihan Cebu COVID-19 treatment center.”

“What we are informed with is because there is an expert that has guided the Archdiocese to be able to…hindi masyadong tuunan ng pansin ito because Omicron is supposed to be the end of the pandemic. At hindi na kailangan ng temporary treatment facilities kasi mild daw yung mga cases na yan. But believe me, I disagree with this,” said Loreche.

The chief pathologist said even if the symptoms of the Omicron variant are mild compared to other variants, this is still detrimental to the population because of how fast it spreads.

Furthermore, as Cebu suffered through the wrath of Typhoon Odette, many households were damaged and will not qualify as quarantine or isolation units.

Even temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs), hospitals, and barangay isolation centers suffered damages because of the typhoon and they may not have been able to recover until now.

“The homes of the people have been destroyed by this. Where will we place the people who have no homes for isolation? Who will have to be waiting for their turn in the hospitals, saan po natin sila ilalagay? We need places for our kababayans,” said Loreche.

She assured the public that DOH-7 is looking for an alternative place for a TTMF. They are currently scrambling for venues even as Presidential Assistant to the Visayas, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, is also helping establish another TTMF for Cebu.

Failure to negotiate

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu (RCAC) said that the reason why the IC3 could no longer function as an isolation center is the fact that the negotiation between them and the Bayanihan Cebu Inc. (BCI) failed.

The BCI had operated the isolation center at the IC3 for the last two years throughout the pandemic, but this year’s negotiations failed to bring the two parties into an agreement.

Monsignor Joseph Tan, the spokesperson of the RCAC, said in a press conference on January 21, 2022, that there were stipulations in the new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that the archdiocese did not agree with.

“When the MOA was drafted, ang RCAC nistipulate only for one year ra gamiton ang facility. Unya, there were other terms and conditions the other party, BCI, did not find acceptable, other than the one-year restriction,” said Tan.

Tan also said that Archbishop Jose Palma had talked with Fr. Nicanor Austriaco of Octa Research and he was advised that the Omicron variant will spell the end of the pandemic, thus, the one year use of the IC3 Pavillion.

With the failure of negotiations, the BIC has officially stopped the operations at the IC3 today, and the construction for the isolation center ceased with it.

When asked whether the disagreement may have been rooted in money or funds, Tan refused to respond and said they will let the issue settle down.

Cebu City to negotiate

Tan said that even if the contract between the archdiocese and the BCI has ended, hope still remains with the Cebu City government choosing to negotiate directly with RCAC over the use of IC3 as an isolation center.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has signified his plans to negotiate with Archbishop Palma over the facility.

“I am optimistic that with the failure of the privately funded organization, the mayor of Cebu City will be more successful in the negotiations,” said Tan.

In a press conference on the same day, Rama already said the city is working on opening more TTMFs for its residents with the rise of the COVID-19 cases.

The Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) in the North Reclamation Area (NRA) and the New Oasis for Adaptation and a Home (NOAH) Center in the South Road Properties (SRP) will be opening soon.

Rama said in a press conference on Friday, January 21, that both facilities are now undergoing preparations to accept COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

The two facilities should be ready in the next few days to accept patients as the cases in the city had reached 5,357 active cases as of January 20, 2022, based on DOH-7 records.

As for the Barangay Isolation Centers (BICs), the Cebu City Central School and Zapatera Elementary School have started accepting more patients. The Abellana National High School will also be transformed into an isolation center in the coming days.     /rcg

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TAGS: Cebu City, COVID-19, COVID-19 pandemic, IC3, isolation center, isolation facility, Omicron variant

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