DND chief: Use of Navy ships as COVID-19 hospitals ‘possible but not advisable’
MANILA, Philippine—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was not too eager to convert Philippine Navy ships into quarantine hospitals for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.
“(It’s) possible but not advisable,” he told reporters on Tuesday (March 31).
The defense chief said he considered only two active Navy ships that are likely capable to be transformed into hospitals — landing docks BRP Tarlac (LD601) and BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).
BRP Davao del Sur, however, was sent to Oman with patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) last January to help in the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East at the height of tensions between the United States and Iran. But the ships won’t be back in the country until the end of the April, Lorenzana said.
He said he was also concerned that the ships could not be used for other purposes once they are turned into hospital ships.
“We only have these two as transport ships,” he said.
The ships’ crew, which is around 140 per vessel, will also be at risk of infection.
Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo earlier said that the Navy was considering the use of decommissioned ships as quarantine sites, but only as a last resort and if onshore facilities had been exhausted.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said Monday (March 30) that there is an ongoing coordination between his agency and private passenger ship companies regarding the plan to commission floating quarantine hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The use of hospital ships is seen to ease the burden of hospitals currently overwhelmed in treating COVID-19 patients.
Edited by TSB
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