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Jesuit university answers Philippine Red Cross Covid call

Ateneo de Manila agrees to turn facilities into isolation wards to relieve pressure on hospitals

Jesuit university answers Philippine Red Cross Covid call

Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City has answered a call by the Red Cross to use its facilities to isolate Covid-19 patients. (Photo courtesy of Ateneo de Manila University)

A Catholic university in the Philippines has accepted a plea from the Red Cross and local officials to use its facilities as isolation units for coronavirus patients in Manila.

Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City was answering a call to help a ballooning number of Covid patients.

On April 6, the Philippines had recorded 803,398 confirmed cases with 13,435 deaths.

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Doctors recently appealed for more isolation facilities as hospitals in the capital and nearby provinces were at breaking point.

“We now have an isolation facility at Ateneo de Manila University. Thirty-two classrooms at Ateneo’s high school will be turned into isolation wards for Covid-19 patients,” lawmaker and Philippine Red Cross president Richard Gordon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Gordon said the move was made possible thanks to local authorities giving permission for the use of schools as makeshift wards while face-to-face classes were suspended.

The lawmaker thanked Ateneo’s president, Jesuit Father Bobby Yap, for making the university’s facilities available.

“This openness of the university is very important in our present situation. This will relieve pressure on our hospitals which are already full. I hope other Catholic schools will follow,” he said.

Medical experts said on April 5 that the spike in Covid cases was mostly caused by asymptomatic patients who spread the virus in their homes.

“The real battleground is the home. If there are asymptomatic patients living in the same house, they are potential super-spreaders of the virus … that’s why we really need testing and isolation,“ Health Department official Maria Rosario Vergeire said on April 6.

Gordon said the Ateneo isolation wards, due to open on April 8, would help solve the problem by providing space for asymptomatic patients to contain the virus.

Father Emmanuel Afable of Sorsogon Diocese welcomed the Jesuits’ decision to help government efforts to resolve pandemic woes.

“The present lack of hospital beds clearly tells us the government cannot do this alone. This is everybody’s concern,” Afable told UCA News.

He proposed other religious congregations help patients under quarantine in such facilities.

“To my fellow brothers in the priesthood, we may use this opportune time to have a ministry to tend to the sick who are under quarantine in these isolation wards. Perhaps we can feed and spearhead a program to accompany them spiritually in their confinement,” he said.

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