Operations of “Kanlungang Palma” will begin on April 22 after the historic Palma Hall of UP Diliman (UPD) was designated an isolation area for suspected and probable cases of persons with COVID-19, according to bulletins from the UPD College of Social Sciences of Philosophy (CSSP). The shelter will handle cases coming from the UPD area.
In an update by CSSP on April 21, 50 of the 85 beds that were set uphave been retained foruse. This was to accommodate the University Health Service’s (UHS) capability to handle only 50 cases at any given time.
In the same bulletin, CSSP revealed that the installation of plastic dividers of bed areas was already underway via the volunteers of Act as One PH, led by Dr. Jesusa Catabui, UHS director. There will only be two patients in each classroom to ensure proper physical distancing.
Arrangements were previously made for the setting up of tents at the parking lot across the façade to serve as the swabbing or testing area of the UHS.
Palma Hall, the home of CSSP, has been known as a shelter for activism.“Ang mga silya ay nasa fourth floor, echoing [the First Quarter Storm] and the Diliman Commune, pero ang kalaban ngayon ay sakit. At sa halip na magtaboy ng manunupil ay tatanggap ng mga nangangailangan,” said Prof. Jem Javier of CSSP’s Department of Linguistics on the latest social engagement by the University in the storied building.
Javier was referring to classroom furniture being moved to the fourth floor, as the second and third floors might also be used for isolation, to give way for isolation beds.
The classrooms were being prepared under the supervision of the UPD Office of the Campus Architect and the UHS, with proper ventilation and spacing of beds ensured.
“Only the front entry of Palma Hall will be used and the east and west wing gates will be closed. The pavilions and all offices will also be closed off,” according to CSSP’s bulletin dated April 18.
In its first bulletin dated April 17, the College assured its constituents that the decision would not risk their safety as “we are not returning to our physical classes for the rest of the semester and the midyear.” CSSP added that all proper health protocols identified by UP COVID-19 Task Force to keep the personnel, including security guards, safe would be followed.
“Only the custodial workers who volunteer for the task will work in the area, with consideration for their own health conditions. They will all receive hazard pay,” according to CSSP. As of April 18, seven such workers had volunteered. The UPD Administration added another five to the task of preparing the area. They were provided meals.
CSSP said that these workers will be replaced by “professional janitors” once isolation operations start on April 22. Disinfection and decontamination before and after the COVID-19 operations will be conducted by a Sanitary Anti-Viral Entry Point or SAVEPOINT team following WHO protocols and utilizing “internal establishment disinfecting” services and misting tents, among others.