195 prisoners, 38 BJMP employees test positive for COVID-19 — DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2020 06:08 PM

Inmates lie to sleep at the crowded courtyard of the jail in Quezon City on May 1, 2020. The United Nations recently sounded the alarm on packed detention centers being vulnerable to the new coronavirus because of challenges in physical distancing and self isolation, and urged governments to to something about the situation. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Almost 200 inmates and over 30 jail employees have tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Health said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at least 373 persons deprived of liberty have already been tested. Of this number, 195 tested positive while 38 employees of the BJMP tested positive for COVID-19. 

She said DOH continues to coordinate with the Philippine Red Cross and the BJMP, which handles district, city and municipal jails in the Philippines, to ensure that inmates and employees are tested and those who test positive are isolated and treated.

“Patuloy po ang testing para sa ating mga persons deprived of liberty, maging empleyado ng Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) sa iba’t ibang pasilidad sa ating bansa,” Vergeire said during a televised briefing.

(The testing for persons deprived of liberty and employees of the BJMP in various facilities in the country continues.)

She said the DOH, the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross also visited the Correctional Institution for Women at the New Bilibid Prison, where a large number of inmates were infected with COVID-19.

“Ito’y panimula pa lamang upang magsagawa tayo ng targeted testing, magbigay ng karampatang panlunas, tamang pamamahala ng kaso upang pagsiguro ng pagkakaroon ng infection and control measures upang maiwasan ang paglobo ng kaso sa mga penal at correctional facilities,” she said.

(This is just the start so we can do targeted testing, give appropriate treatment and proper management of cases to implement infection control measures and to prevent the increase in cases in penal and correctional facilities.)

The DOH said it will set up isolation facilities in New Bilibid Prison with the help of the ICRC.

Vergeire said a 48-bed capacity quarantine facility is already operational at the Quezon City Jail in Payatas. A total of 40 individuals have already been admitted.

Meanwhile, they are also setting up a 40-bed capacity quarantine facility in New San Fernando Districty Jail and an 80-bed quarantine facility in the district jail of Pagbilao, Lucena.