Listed port operator Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI) said its international cruise terminal at the Manila South Harbor is going to be used as a temporary quarantine area to aid the government in its fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement on Wednesday, ATI said it was making available its Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) and adjacent berthing facilities as added temporary quarantine areas in response to government’s call for solidarity, particularly in mobilizing interim healthcare facilities needed amid the national health crisis.

“The PTB with 2,000-seating capacity will be converted into a temporary holding facility while Pier 15’s two southside berths will accommodate the floating hospital vessels being deployed by the Department of Transportation (DoTr),” it added.

It said government agencies, including the DoTr and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), are leading the conversion of the terminal.

“ATI units originally located at the cruise terminal, such as the General Stevedoring, Billing and Collections and Medical Office, will be transferred to the South Harbor Operations Center (SHOC) to ensure seamless operations,” the company also said.

The DoTr announced recently that shipping and logistics provider 2Go Group, Inc. would convert two of its vessels into “quarantine ships” for returning seafarers and other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The department said more shipping companies have expressed their intention to join the initiative.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law on March 24 Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, authorizing him to exercise powers “necessary and proper” to fight the spread of the COVID-19.

The law states that “when the public interest so requires,” the President can direct the operation of privately owned hospitals and medical and health facilities including passenger vessels and other establishments to house health workers; serve as quarantine areas or centers; and public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel and other persons; among others.

On Tuesday, the government announced the extension of the lockdown on Luzon island until the end of April, as the country has yet to contain the spread of the COVID-19. — Arjay L. Balinbin