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Gov’t in talks with Dennis Uy-led 2GO for floating quarantine hospitals

The government is in discussion with Davao businessman Dennis Uy-led shipping and logistics firm 2GO Group Inc. for its plan to convert passenger ships into floating quarantine hospitals for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.

“The DOTr (Department of Transportation), PPA (Philippine Ports Authority), and Philippine Coast Guard are in talks with 2GO,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran told reporters in a Viber group message.

“We will update once details are finalized,” Libiran said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier bared plans to set up floating quarantine hospitals as part of the government’s response to COVID-19 threat. 

Citing Section 4 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the Transportation chief said President Rodrigo Duterte is authorized to "direct the operation of any privately-owned passenger vessels to serve as temporary medical facilities."

Tugade said that the floating quarantine facilities may be installed with the necessary medical equipment and could be deployed in any part of the country.

Aside from the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the lawmaker said that the move also has legal basis in Section 24 of Republic Act No. 9295 or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004 which provides that: "In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during emergencies and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operations or any vessel engaged in domestic trade and commerce."

The Philippines’ death toll from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continued to climb on Thursday to 107 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 11 more fatalities as Luzon marked its third week on lockdown.

In a virtual press conference, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also confirmed 322 more cases, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 2,633. —LDF, GMA News