The Department of Transportation teamed up with 2GO Shipping to transform passenger vessels into “quarantine ships” for returning seafarers and other overseas Filipino workers who are required to undergo 14-day quarantine.
The agency said under the proposal of the Philippine Coast Guard, private passenger ships will be converted into temporary quarantine facilities as authorities expect more repatriates to return to the country.
2GO Shipping agreed to convert two of their vessels into “quarantine ships” that can serve 1,500 patients. They will be operational by next week.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases gave the DOTr and the PCG the green light to implement the operation of “quarantine ships” as temporary facilities for persons under monitoring or those who have traveled to COVID-19 affected areas and those who show symptoms but have no history of exposure.
The project will be implemented in close coordination with the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine. This is also expected to unburden hospitals that are now operating at their full capacity.
The PCG vowed to ensure the unhampered and orderly operations of quarantine ships and the delivery of effective onboard healthcare, subject to standard environment controls, hygiene protocols, maritime safety and security regulations.
“We are grateful for the support and partnership we had with 2GO. Negotiations with them went well and so, two ships are now awaiting their deployment to serve our people. With this meaningful cause, we are setting an example for other nations how to combat this pandemic,” PCG Commandant Admiral Joel Garcia said.
DOTr Undersecretary for administrative service and IATF official representative Artemio Tuazon Jr. said efforts to reach out to various shipping companies resulted in more shipping companies expressing their intention to join the project.
“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 government during this very critical situation,” Tuazon said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority will perform support functions to ensure smooth administrative and logistics operations.
As part of safety protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus, the capacity of each ship will be limited to observe proper physical distancing.
The ships will also be subjected to inspection by the DOH to ensure their compliance with other health requirements.