Coronavirus: Sports Hub's OCBC Arena, selected ActiveSG indoor halls to house foreign workers

Sports Hub has converted its OCBC Arena Halls to temporarily accommodate about 800 foreign workers. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Due to the coronavirus pandemic, hospital resources worldwide have been strained and the need for more places to house Covid-19 patients, who need to be isolated, has become an issue for many countries.

In some of these countries, authorities have turned to converting sporting venues to help fill the gap.

While Singapore has not used sports facilities to house patients, the Singapore Sports Hub and national agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) will use some of their venues to accommodate foreign workers who provide essential services, and do not have Covid-19 symptoms.

The Sports Hub has converted its OCBC Arena Halls to temporarily house about 800 foreign workers from Friday (April 17).

It said: "Strict protocols will be in place to manage their entry and presence at all times, and during the stay, they are to remain within the halls and are to follow strict health and safety measures according to the guidelines."

Similarly, SportSG will activate some of its facilities. Starting from Friday, ActiveSG sport halls at Pasir Ris, Jurong West, Clementi and Hougang will be housing these workers progressively.

Here are what some other sports venues around the world have done:

1. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York City

The site of the annual US Open tennis tournament has converted a portion of its sprawling 42-acre complex into a makeshift hospital, with some 475 beds, including 20 for ICU patients.

It will accommodate the patients in its 100,000 sq ft indoor training facility.

Last week (April 10), New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose city has been hardest hit by the coronavirus, with over 120,000 confirmed cases and more than 8,600 deaths as of Thursday (April 16), told local media that if it is not used as a hospital, it can also be used as a place to quarantine people.

2. Hard Rock Stadium, Miami

The venue for January's Super Bowl has been turned into a testing facility for the coronavirus.

Patients of all ages who exhibit symptoms can get tested at the drive-through site, which is home to the National Football League team Miami Dolphins, to confirm if they have contracted the virus.

The facility handles 400 tests a day and has so far conducted over 11,000 tests.

3. The Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

One of the wold's most fabled stadiums, it staged the 1950 and 2014 World Cup football finals and was also the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games.

However, with future sporting events cancelled in the country, the 78,000-seater's car park will be transformed into a 400-bed temporary hospital to hold Covid-19 patients.

Many of Brazil's World Cup stadiums have been converted into makeshift hospitals and vaccine centres during the pandemic.

4. Philsports Complex & Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, Manila

Armed with a steady water supply and fully air-conditioned, the Philsports Complex in Pasig City and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila will become Covid-19 facilities. Both venues were recently used to stage the SEA Games.

The Philsports Complex has a bed capacity of 150 to 200 while the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex can hold up to 100 patients.

5. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid

The 81,044-seater is the second-largest stadium in Spain and home of one of the world's top football teams, Real Madrid.

It will be converted into a storage facility to hold medical supplies donated to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

6. Principality Stadium, Cardiff

The home of Welsh rugby now has giant tents over its pitch to control the temperature within the stadium. It took only a few weeks to turn it into a hospital with a bed capacity of 2,000.

Also known as the Dragon's Heart Hospital, its purpose is to house Covid-19 patients and to help ease the pressure on Britain's already-strained National Health Service.

According to Wales Online, it will also have a mobile CT scanner, four X-ray machines and a mobile laboratory.

7. Hongshan Gymnasium, Wuhan

The building was converted into a medical facility to house Covid-19 patients in the city of 11 million, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year.

It was shut last month, after the number of new infection cases began dropping.

8. United Center, Chicago

Home of the NBA's Chicago Bulls, and the National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks, the United Center is at the forefront of the city's fight against the coronavirus.

It is being used as a hub for food distribution and medical supplies, as well as for first responder staging.

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