DOTr eyes using passenger vessels as floating quarantine hospitals

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Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade has said that the DOTr is now coordinating with owners of passenger vessels for possibility of deploying temporary floating quarantine hospitals as number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continues to rise.

“I deemed it proper to convene the DOTr officials and heads of concerned attached agencies this day to discuss the operationalization of the plan to commission private passenger vessels, and if necessary, to utilize the PCG vessels, as additional medical facilities,” Secretary Tugade said in response to Senator Francis Tolentino’s letter dated March 26.

“At present time, kindly be informed that initial coordination with ship owners/operators has already been made,” the secretary said.

Tugade said that the recently passed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to “direct the operation of any privately-owned passenger vessels to serve as temporary medical facilities.”

In his letter, Senator Tolentino said “given that a passenger ship’s capacity can reach up to 1, 200 passengers and since these are available now, with most of these vacant and docked in the Port of Manila, due to the travel restrictions, allowing these vessels to be used as temporary medical facilities will address the shortage of hospital spaces and will ease the burden of our hospitals and our health workers.”