University of the Philippines Diliman
Best Practice Focus Area/s
Innovation Leadership, Citizen-centered Services
8 March 2020
This is a GBPR Entry
The UPD COVID-19 Response Framework was developed to put together UPD initiatives to address the various aspects of the university’s mandate as a national university and to ensure continuity and sustainability despite the challenges posed by the pandemic’s restrictions and response. The general objective of the proposed Response Framework is to minimize the negative socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the UPD community. It is designed to address the short-term to the mid-term period of the challenges of the pandemic but shall be updated and refined to provide a long-term response moving to a “better normal.”
The Framework consists of the following four major strategies to minimize the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the community: ensure good health and safety; support academic and research functions; ensure the adequate and continuous flow of UPD services, and promote effective communication.
Background and Problem
When the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine was announced in mid-March, many students were stranded on campus. With the absence of public transportation and limitations on mobility, they could not leave the campus and return to their families in the provinces. The university needed to ensure the health and safety of the stranded students while arrangements were made to bring them home. Even during the quarantine and the shift to remote work and classes, offices had to continue operating. Essential and priority services were identified, and only a skeletal force of each office had to physically report for work despite the risks involved in traveling from their residence to the workplace and back.
Public transportation within and around the campus was suspended, and commercial activities were halted. With markets and retail establishments closed, the residents had to arrange for alternative means of securing food and necessities.
As of 7 December 2020, 453 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been recorded from its constituents and residents, where 29 are active cases. Some residential areas are congested and contribute to community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Hence, the university needed to mitigate the risks involved in continuing its operations as a university and a community and support the personnel who tested positive for the virus.
Solution and Impact
UP Diliman implemented a community-based response to the pandemic. This entailed:
Understanding and monitoring the emerging needs of UP constituents as the pandemic unfolded
Tapping the various expertise available in the community
Capacitating the university on pandemic response through self-learning, collaboration, and piloting.
To ensure the health and safety of the community, UPD used the public health approach of early detection, testing, quarantine and isolation, and contact tracing. A Risk Matrix was developed as the basis for the targeted testing of high and high-risk personnel physically reporting for work. Targeted testing enabled priority testing of health staff, security guards, and custodial workers who regularly interact with the community and clients. Testing was carried out by the UP Health Service (UHS) in partnership with the Philippine Genome Center.
UP opened Kanlungang Palma and Silungang Molave isolation/quarantine facilities to serve UP constituents, barangay residents, and Quezon City residents with suspected or confirmed mild cases. A contact-tracing team was formed, headed by the UP Public Health Unit (PHU), and supported by volunteers. Health Liaison Officers (HeLOs) and Post-ECQ Teams (PETs) implemented and monitored health and safety protocols and coordinated with the UHS-PHU for other health concerns.
To support academic and research functions, UPD transitioned from face-to-face classes to remote learning; conducted capacity-building sessions (webinars) on remote learning and tutorial sessions for faculty and staff; provided financial support to faculty and staff for the development of course packs, training materials, and transitioning to the remote work environment for enrollment, library services, and learning management; and, provided guidelines for the safe use of dormitories and laboratories.
UP Diliman ensures the adequate and continuous flow of UPD services by providing guidelines and technical/financial support for work-from-home arrangements; setting up infrastructure for remote work; re-arranging the physical workspace for a safe work environment in the office, and maintaining a safe distance among staff and providing better ventilation; re-configuring manual processes to shift to digital transactions; and, providing shuttle services and temporary accommodations opened for staff.
UPD promotes effective communication for its constituent and the general public by providing weekly updates to the community regarding COVID-19 cases on campus using various online platforms; and by preparing information, education, and communication (IEC) materials used in community education activities.
Other initiatives and provisions done by UPD were: providing accommodation facilities for healthcare workers from the Lung Center of the Philippines; coordinating with relevant government agencies to allow stranded students to return to their provinces (Hatid Probinsya Program); providing material support to construction workers left in the campus; the opening of open spaces for exercise activities; coordinating with the LTFRB to allow UP PUJs to operate in their routes again, and supporting initiatives of student organizations to help fellow students and other community members.
The following milestones were achieved:
- Convened a multi-disciplinary COVID-19 Task Force and Special Committee on health services (risk matrix)
- Opened the Kanlungang Palma (KP) isolation facility
- Established the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) as a testing facility
- Conducted a donation drive for stranded students
- Started the 4-months series of training sessions for volunteers to conduct contact-tracing work at which 51 volunteers (composed of university students, faculty, and employees) were trained, and 22 of these volunteers remained as active tracers under the supervision of the UPD Public Health Unit
- Reorganized the health services to address the COVID-19 situation with the set-up of the COVID-19 Triage, implementation of Telemedicine, and the enhancement of the role of the Public Health Unit
- Started COVID-19 testing through UP Health Service (UHS) swabbing operations
- Conduct virtual orientation of Health Liaison Officers (HeLOs) from the different units/offices of UPD
- Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases peaked, COVID-19 Task Force reviewed strategies and implemented interventions in the offices and residential community.
- Closure of the Kanlungan Palma as an isolation facility
- Free Flu Vaccination was administered to UPD employees
- Opened the Silungang Molave (SiM) as an isolation and swabbing facility
- Positivity rate peaked at 39.6%, reached and determined by increased testing
- Developed the COVID-19 Risk Matrix to categorize and characterize UP workforce conditions according to their risk exposure
- Conducted targeted testing based on risk assessment; positive cases were immediately isolated, and close contacts traced
- Mobilized volunteers to do public information dissemination, training/workshops for purok leaders on health and pandemic response, and in collaboration with UP labor unions and staff
- Number of swab tests for RT-PCR tests peaked at 428
- Started the weekly reporting of COVID-19 cases to the UPD community to further increase awareness and vigilance
- Detected a significant decline in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases
- No new cases were reported among UPD constituents for a week in December
- Start of mass testing