Iligan using sprawling National Steel compound as COVID-19 isolation complex

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 8 Sep) – The sprawling 400-hectare complex of the mothballed National Steel Corporation has been converted into a complex of isolation units for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in Iligan City.

The sprawling compound of what used to be the National Steel Corporation in Iligan City, mothballed years ago, is now being converted as a COVID-19 isolation complex. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Dr. David Mendoza, COVID-19 Incident Commander of the Department of Health in Region 10, said construction is ongoing for a 100-bed capacity isolation unit at the former administration building of the steel complex.

Mendoza said another 110-bed isolation capacity is also being constructed at the former clubhouse of NSC.

“We have inspected the ongoing construction and we think the administrative building would be finished by next week,” Mendoza told reporters during a press conference at the Philippine Information Agency.

Iligan City is beset with the lack of isolation units, prompting the National Inter-Agency Task Force to upgrade its status to Moderate Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) last week.

The state-owned NSC was the country’s biggest steel plant for decades. It was acquired by a Malaysian company in 1995, then severely affected by the 1997 financial crisis. An Indian company then acquired it in 2004 and renamed Global Steel Philippines, Inc. Operations, however, only lasted until 2009.

Iligan City information officer Jose Pantoja said they are recommending for the IATF to temporarily shut down the flow of returning residents and workers to the city.

According to the DOH-Center for Health Development-Northern Mindanao, Iligan already has 437 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday. Of which, 164 have recovered and 258 are still active, with 15 deaths.

Pantoja said if the facility at the NSC will be operational, the city would have 726 available beds for its COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha, spokesperson for the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, said 10 nurses and doctors in their hospital were found infected with COVID-19.

Rocha said the infected health workers were not assigned to the Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease (EREID) section of the hospital.

He said all are undergoing quarantine at the isolation units. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)