The Department of Health (DOH), together with the Department of Justice (DOJ), World Health Organization (WHO), and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted an initial assessment, investigation, and management of cases at the Correctional Institution for Women-Bureau of Corrections and New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
This is the start of the ongoing coordination with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to conduct targeted testing, provide treatment and management of cases, and ensure that infection control measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in penal and correctional facilities.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured that the DOH is also closely working with the ICRC in building isolation facilities for probable and suspect cases inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Duque said ICRC has installed a 110-bed capacity quarantine facility in the medium-security New Bilibid Prison.
He said multi-disciplinary technical support has likewise been supplied to the Correctional Institute for Women as an emergency response to its confirmed cases detected recently.
Meanwhile, the ICRC also assisted the BJMP and BuCor in setting up temporary isolation centers for COVID19 positive detainees with mild to moderate symptoms.
A 48-bed quarantine facility in the Quezon City Jail in Payatas is now fully operational with 40 admitted detainees. It is being expanded to 200 beds and will open shortly in collaboration with BJMP.
Work is ongoing at the New San Fernando District Jail with a 40-bed quarantine facility and the Quezon District Jail in Pagbilao, Lucena City with an 80-bed quarantine facility.
The said isolation centers were set-up with separate areas for patients and sleeping quarters for staff, electricity, water, cots, and basic furnishings.
The staff were also furnished with medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPEs) for healthcare workers, and tablet devices to facilitate contact between patients and their relatives.
Training on infection prevention and control and management of the dead, based on DOH and WHO guidelines, were also provided. DOH is currently working with ICRC to assist BJMP and BUCOR to develop guidelines on the control, management and prevention of COVID 19 in places of detention.
Aside from penal institutions, the DOH and WHO, along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will focus on other closed-setting facilities such as orphanages and homes for the aged to ensure its safety.
“Multi-sectoral efforts are ramped up to support all vulnerable areas to stem this pandemic. In all closed-setting facilities, a single case of an asymptomatic positive COVID19 case can be a disaster,” Duque added./Stacy Ang