Shipping and logistics provider 2Go Group, Inc. will convert two of its vessels into “quarantine ships” for returning seafarers and other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Transportation department said.
“2GO Shipping has agreed to convert two of its ships into ‘quarantine ships’ that can serve 1,500 patients and will be operational by next week,” the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said in a statement on Sunday.
The department said more shipping companies have expressed their intention to join the initiative.
“The DoTr has been continuously reaching out to various shipping companies to seek their support for the project. A lot of them have already signified their intent to make use of their ships as floating quarantine facilities. We are grateful that more of them are expressing their willingness to cooperate with the government during this very critical situation,” DoTr Undersecretary for Administrative Service Artemio U. Tuazon Jr. said.
For his part, DoTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said: “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. We will deploy these ‘quarantine ships’ to help our hospitals, our health workers, and our countrymen.”
President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law on March 24 Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, authorizing him to exercise powers “necessary and proper” to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The law states that “when the public interest so requires,” the President can direct the operation of any privately owned hospitals and medical and health facilities including passenger vessels and other establishments to house health workers; serve as quarantine areas or centers; and public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel and other persons; among others.
Mr. Dutere locked down the entire Luzon island on March 17, suspending classes and public transportation to contain the COVID-19.
The so-called enhanced community quarantine, which bars people from leaving their homes except to buy food, medicine and other basic goods, seeks to slow the spread of the virus and prevent the collapse of the country’s health care system. – Arjay L. Balinbin