MOVE UP Concept Note on Setting-up CQFs

From a public health emergency of international concern to a pandemic, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 has continuously crossed intercontinental borders and has infected millions of people around the world. In four months, the United States has overtaken Europe as the pandemic’s epicenter. As of May 11, US has recorded the highest number of deaths at 76,916, followed by the United Kingdom at 31,855 and Italy at close 30,560. The global death toll has reached 280,000 while confirmed cases have surged to 4 million worldwide.

The pandemic has hit global north countries the worst despite their relatively functional healthcare systems and medical infrastructures. The United States confirmed the highest number of cases at 1.2 million followed by Spain (225,000), the Russian Federation (221,000), UK and Italy (219,000). Meanwhile, emerging, underdeveloped, and developing countries with dysfunctional healthcare systems have struggled to cope; analysts said the African continent is a ticking time bomb with its underfunded health programs and medical infrastructures. Governments around the world have sent millions of people into lockdowns and have forced tens of thousands of businesses and livelihoods to close indefinitely. The World Economic Forum projected that in the least developed countries, 900 million people are at risk from the COVID-19.

In the Philippines, just two months after Taal Volcano had spewed ashes in a phreatic eruption that paralyzed the Southern Tagalog Region, the authorities reported the first local transmission of COVID-19. President Rodrigo Duterte then imposed a 30-day Metro Manila lockdown, limiting travel in and out of the capital region until April 14. The rising number of cases and death toll resulted in a national state of calamity and an extended, enhanced community quarantine for high-risk areas until May 15, including the capital region. The government suspended all classes, mass transport systems, public gatherings, and other social activities to reduce transmission. The executive branches continued operations on skeleton staff and work-from-home arrangements; several sectors and other organizations followed suit. In March, the Senate passed the Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, authorizing the president to have additional emergency powers and access to funding in dealing with the pandemic, including accreditation of testing kits and facilities, distribution of cash aid, and deployment of added military interventions, among others. Near mid-May, 726 Filipinos have died and 11,086 have tested positive.

As of now, there are only 11 accredited subnational laboratories for testing in the country. The government admitted that limited testing centers pose challenges in determining the actual number of cases. To address this, 60 more laboratories are yet to be accredited by the government, which targets 13,000 to 20,000 testing a day starting on April 27. The testing will prioritize suspect and probable cases of COVID- 19.

In recent weeks, resource-challenged hospitals and medical facilities have encountered many gaps and challenges in fighting the coronavirus. Death among healthcare professionals and the infected ones’ inability to function during a mandatory quarantine period aggravate the long-existing shortage of healthcare manpower in the country. The scarce supply of personal protective equipment and other logistical needs exacerbate the crisis. Saturated COVID-19 centers cannot cater to the increasing number of suspect and probable cases, resorting to home quarantines. In urban settings with relatively high population densities, physical distancing and isolation seem almost impossible. At the community levels, health workers struggle to monitor the conditions of suspect cases due to a lack of facilities for the mandated self-isolation procedures. Besides myths and disinformation, social stigma has also aggravated problems on early detection, monitoring, and treatment. Family members’ prejudice and discrimination towards their presumptive positive relatives also add a burden to the position of the latter.

Given the context of continuously rising cases and the immediate need to address the hospitals’ surge capacity, the Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP) Project, with its success in piloting and replicating alternative temporary shelter (ATS) systems as an urban resilience strategy, aims to propose solutions that will help address current gaps in providing adequate facilities for self-isolation and quarantine. The ATS System, originally intended to address the lack of dignified space and shelters for internally displaced families affected by disasters, can serve as base models for designing Community Quarantine Facilities (CQFs). MOVE UP, together with its technical partner for shelter United Architects of the Philippines – Emergency Architects (UAP-EA), intends to present replicable models built on practical design criteria (robustness, affordability, scalability, range of application, and speed of construction) for local government units (LGUs) and communities that need facilities.

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