Last week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte volunteered his presidential yacht to be used as a COVID-19 facility and now, the Philippine Navy has opened BRP Ang Pangulo to admit patients.

The Navy released a statement on Sunday, April 12, that BRP Ang Pangulo "is now ready to accept COVID-19 patients as necessary works to transform the vessel into a floating quarantine facility were already finished."

The vessel has now been revamped into a "floating quarantine facility."

The Navy said officers and enlisted personnel took charge in the conversion of the presidential yacht into an isolation facility, merely 48 hours after President Duterte made the pronouncement to use the ship as a quarantine site.

The yacht, currently designated in the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, can board 28 patients and 5 medical personnel while the crew remains on board.

The revamp saw three compartments for patients inside the ship.

The patients will maintain a 3-meter distance while different entry points will be assigned for the medical staff and patients.

"Prompted by President and Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Duterte's desire to utilize the ship, BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS-25), as a floating COVID-19 quarantine facility, the PN devised a feasible plan of converting the Presidential Yacht into a floating quarantine facility dedicated for coronavirus patients," Navy public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas issued a statement.

The yacht was gifted to the Philippines as part of Japan's post-war amends towards the country. BRP Ang Pangulo was then turned into a presidential yacht in the late 1950s.

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Recently, the Philippine government has been transforming several conventions and stadiums in Metro Manila and northern Luzon into isolation facilities to diminish the burden on hospitals swamped with novel coronavirus cases.

Three special compartments were prepped by Navy personnel for patients with a set temporary division.

While the vessel is being utilized as an isolation facility, the crew will be restricted from places occupied by coronavirus patients.

"The crew were already provided with personal protective equipment while rapid antibody tests were conducted," Roxas said.

"All entry points from the crew's billeting area and other compartments from the temporary medical facility and patient rooms were already sealed off, the Navy said.

Duterte asked the Navy to help in running the yacht since there were not enough doctors and medical workers to be designated to manage the ship once revamped into a quarantine facility.

The Philippine president said the presidential yacht's interior bears a resemblance to a hotel, but he never used it. He said he only went up the ship because he had an affair with the country's Bureau of Customs.

Spearheaded by former president Carlos P. Garcia, the Filipino naval engineers distinctively designed the vessel for utilization as a presidential yacht. The vessel was commissioned into the Philippine Navy on March 7, 1959, as its flagship, which fulfilled its role until December 1961.

As of Sunday, 4,648 confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded in the country, along with 297 fatalities and 197 recoveries.

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