President Rodrigo Duterte discusses matters with Cabinet members during a briefing on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) at the Malacañan Palace on Feb. 3, 2020.
Toto Lozano/Presidential Photo
Duterte ready to seize private buildings to quarantine nCoV patients
Alexis Romero ( - February 4, 2020 - 9:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government may expropriate private facilities and convert them to quarantine centers or hospitals if the Philippines is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

While he believes that nCoV will eventually die a "natural death," Duterte has instructed the Health department to prepare rooms or spaces for patients who exhibited symptoms of the disease.

"I will expropriate. I will get your building whether you like it or not, whether it is on times of emergency... It is confiscatory in nature," the president told reporters in Malacañang Monday night.

"You confiscate, then you make it a hospital bringing in the equipment inside the building where the egress and ingress is controlled," he added.

Duterte said the government may use the drug rehabilitation facility at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija donated by a Chinese philanthropist to accommodate patients who have to be quarantined or treated.

"But that building I think the first building is vacant, not used. Problem is I think the governor is against (the conversion of the building to a hospital). It's in Fort Magsaysay. That building is inside a national government reservation. It's spacious," Duterte said.

"I will place a lot of people there if the contagion actually... It’s epidemic if it is just regional or local or national. It is pandemic if it is worldwide," he added.

Previous reports said Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali is against the conversion of the Mega Drug Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay into a quarantine center. The drug rehabilitation center was launched in 2016 as part of the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

Duterte said agencies have not yet finalized the sites of the quarantine facilities, noting that the Philippines only has two confirmed cases of nCoV.

"It is not yet needed but I said we will prepare," he said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the drug rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay would "most probably" be used as a quarantine facility.

"The huge facility can accommodate a lot if need be. In the meantime, all our different government hospitals have their own quarantine facilities. Our government hospitals are ready to implement the quarantine protocols," Nograles said in a media forum Tuesday in Quezon City.

Duterte said the government is also buying face masks to protect the public from the virus.

"We are procuring and we have supplies coming in. The supply is depleted because there is an emergency and there's a need for it. So everybody is buying. That's the reason why there is a scarce supply in the market. Without the virus, the masks are not being sold by the thousands. The virus raised the prices," he said.

Nograles said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has spoken with local manufacturers and importers of the mask to augment the supply of the medical tool.

"I think the scarcity comes with the problem of hoarding... it is creating some sort of panic among our people. There is the tendency for our countrymen... to purchase more than what is required," Nograles said.  

"We are asking our countrymen not to hoard face masks," he added.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 29, 2020 - 2:36pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

March 29, 2020 - 2:36pm

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says test kits donated by the Chinese government are actually accurate.

In a transcript of a text message sent by the embassy and since confirmed by Duque, the health secretary said:

"Hi! There is nothing wrong with the REAL TIME-POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION machine which is used for generating positive or negative result as the case may be!

Again your Test Kits BGI and SANSURE BIOTECHNOLOGY are very good and up to the standards as those which were donated by WHO and approved by our RITM. AGAIN OUR GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION TO YOU AND THE CHINESE Government."

The Department of Health has also issued an apology and clarification on the issue.


March 29, 2020 - 10:51am

US President Donald Trump decided late Saturday against imposing a broad two-week lockdown on New York and its neighbors after a strong pushback from local political leaders and warnings of the panic it could spark.

"A quarantine will not be necessary," Trump tweeted, some eight hours after he stunned the New York metropolitan region, the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak, with a proposal to place it under quarantine to prevent residents from leaving.

Trump had indicated earlier he was responding to worries in other states, particularly Florida, that travelers from the greater New York city area could spread COVID-19 in their communities.

He told reporters that "heavily infected" New Yorkers were a threat to Florida, a popular southern holiday destination for people in the northeast. ?— AFP

March 28, 2020 - 6:29pm

Iran announces that 139 more people had died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official death toll to 2,517 in one of the world's worst-affected countries.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour says in a press conference that 3,076 more cases had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 35,408. — AFP

March 28, 2020 - 3:53pm

Actress Iza Calzado tested positive for the coronavirus disease, her manager says.

March 28, 2020 - 1:30pm

Toyota Makati Inc. announces that a team member tested positive for COVID-19.

"The safety and security of our employees, customers, and all of our stakeholders, is paramount to us. Keeping this in mind, and under the guidance and support of the relevant national and local authorities, we are taking immediate and comprehensive actions necessary, including disinfection of the dealership, to prevent any spread of the virus," the company says.

"Furthermore, all employees who have had close contact with the infected member have been quarantined," it adds.

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