Gov't buildings, hotels, resorts may soon be used as quarantine sites

MANILA, Philippines – Government halls, hotels, and resorts may soon be used as quarantine facilities for persons under investigation (PUI) for the novel coronavirus, and confirmed patients with mild symptoms.

In a televised briefing late Friday night, March 27, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles read out the latest resolution from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The resolution, as read by Nograles, includes a directive for local government units and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) "to identify government facilities that may be temporarily converted into isolation or quarantine facilities."

Establishments regulated by the Department of Tourism – hotels and resorts – may soon be tapped, too.

"The Department of Tourism and other government agencies are likewise directed to coordinate with entities under their respective regulatory authorities as applicable in identifying facilities that may be temporarily designated for isolation or quarantine purposes," said Nograles, reading the IATF-EID resolution.

These agencies will report suitable facilities to the National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19, the newly-formed body that will implement the government's policies and measures to address the pandemic.

The NTF COVID-19 will then classify facilities according to which ones can be used to isolate PUIs, and others "where COVID-positive patients with mild symptoms may be managed."

If cleared by the NTF COVID-19, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will inspect the locations and covert them into quarantine facilities.

The DPWH will then accredit construction workers in order to exempt them from "strict home quarantine" or lockdowns.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government will issue guidelines on the implementation of these directives, Nograles said.

Hospitals – public and private – have been reaching full capacity with the increasing number of coronavirus patients, suspected cases, and people wanting to be tested for the virus.

Some local governments have converted establishments such as motels into quarantine facilities to accommodate the growing number of persons under monitoring or investigation for the disease.

As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded 803 confirmed cases of the virus, with 54 deaths and 31 recoveries. –

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.