PH Navy heeds Duterte’s call to convert presidential yacht into a quarantine facility

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) — The Philippine Navy answered on Saturday night President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to convert the presidential yacht into a COVID-19 quarantine facility.

In a statement, the Philippine Navy said BRP Ang Pangulo can accommodate 28 patients and five medical personnel.

“The Philippine Navy is fully committed to support the Bayanihan to Heal as One initiative by devoting its personnel, and resources as it explores all possible means to contain and defeat the spread of the corona virus disease in the country,” their statement reads.

The presidential yacht is deployed in the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao command to augment the Davao operations of the Presidential Security Group.

The BRP Ang Pangulo will have three exclusive compartments for COVID-19 patients and a three-meter distance will be observed among them.

The yacht’s crew will still be on-board but the entry points to their billeting area and the COVID-19 patients’ area will be sealed off.

The Navy assures the yacht’s commanding officer, Commander Marissa Arlene Andres-Martinez, is already coordinating with the local AFP units and government hospitals in Davao to support the medical equipment and other essential requirements needed for the floating quarantine facility.

Earlier today, President Rodrigo Duterte pitched the idea of turning the BRP Ang Pangulo into a quarantine facility for COVID-19.

"Ang Philippine Navy in-alert ko, sabi ko 'yung mga barko ninyo na magaganda... 'Yung (BRP Ang) Pangulo, 'yung barko ng Presidente ng Pilipinas, maganda 'yan," Duterte said in a televised address late Friday.

[Translation: I alerted the Philippine Navy for their boats that are nice... The (BRP Ang) Pangulo, the ship of the President of the Phlippines, that's nice boat.)

Duterte added he has only visited the yacht, but has never used it.

"Sabi ko sa Navy, gawaing ospital kaagad pati magtulong sila ng iba. At marami na," said the President.

[Translation: I told the Navy to convert it into a hospital at once and they should give other help. And there has been a lot..]

The Philippine Navy has not issued a statement yet on the President's suggestion.

The Philippine government has tasked different agencies to find more quarantine facilities — both on land and sea — to be used during the COVID-19 crisis.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tuesday said the Department of Transportation will be the lead agency in looking for maritime vessels that can serve as "floating quarantine centers" that will house potential COVID-19 cases and patients with mild symptoms. The chosen ships have to receive the approval of the Department of Health.

The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum Halls, the World Trade Center in Pasay City and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila City are currently being converted into quarantine centers and will be ready by April 12

The facilities can house close to 2,000 COVID-19 patients.

Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Rizal Sports Complex, which will house 600 patients with mild symptoms, will be fully ready by April 10. The World Trade Center, which will be completed by April 12, will have 650 beds. The conversion of PICC will be finished by April 10.

During the IATF briefing on Saturday, Nograles said they are continuing to look at other facilities to turn into quarantine centers.