DOTr, 2GO to convert 2 passenger vessels into quarantine ships

MANILA, Philippines – Dennis Uy-led 2GO Group will convert two of its passenger vessels into quarantine ships for returning overseas Filipino workers and other persons under monitoring for the novel coronavirus.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement on Sunday, April 5, that the ships would be operational by next week and would be able to serve 1,500 patients.

"Most hospitals in Metro Manila have already pleaded for help in attending to COVID-19 patients. Some of them can no longer accept more patients due to overcapacity, and that is what we are trying to address here," said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in the statement.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) earlier suggested turning private passenger ships into temporary quarantine facilities, a proposal approved by the government's inter-agency task force handling the response to the outbreak.

The DOTr said the PCG would ensure "unhampered and orderly operations of quarantine ships," in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Bureau of Quarantine.

The DOH would inspect the vessels to ensure they comply with health requirements.

The DOTr said it is reaching out to other shipping companies which may be willing to offer their vessels as well.

Aside from ships, stadiums, theaters, and hotels will also be converted into quarantine areas. (READ: LIST: National coronavirus quarantine centers)

As of Sunday, there are 3,246 coronavirus cases in the Philippines, with 152 deaths and 64 recoveries. – Rappler.com