COVID-19 cases around Camp Bagong Diwa enough reason to test prisoners, says group
MANILA, Philippines – The rising number of coronavirus cases in communities surrounding Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City should be reason enough to test prisoners in the camp, a rights group Kapatid said on Wednesday.
“We know that BJMP [Bureau of Jail Management and Penology] wardens in particular are doing everything they can to protect prisoners under their custody given very limited resources, and they have our support on this,” Kapatid said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“But it will be difficult to just brush off reports about COVID-19 cases among prison personnel, particularly the Taguig City Jail Female Dorm, when the Taguig local government unit itself has reported 19 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease and one death as of March 22,” the group said.
As of Wednesday evening, the Taguig City government has reported 22 cases of COVID-19, with two patients dying from the disease.
Due to these developments, Kapatid called on authorities to act immediately.
“Kapatid appeals to the highest prison authorities to immediately start the mass testing of prisoners and personnel alike,” the group said. “Although as we have stressed, the best option is still to release prisoners as other countries like the US are now doing to foil an epidemic that would be catastrophic in our congested jails.”
Earlier, the BJMP spokesperson, Jail Chief Insp. Xavier Sold, disputed reports that an employee of the Taguig City Jail Female Dormitory at Camp Bagong Diwa had tested positive for COVID-19.
“I received an information that there’s an organization claiming that we have a COVID 19 Case in Taguig City Jail Female Dormitory citing ‘reports’,” Solda said. “It’s not true.”
Solda did not mention what particular group made the assertion, but it was Kapatid that previously raised the issue, even saying that some sick prisoners had been brought out of prison to be treated hospitals outside the camp.
As of Wednesday, the entire Luzon was still under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
According to health officials, as of this writing, 636 people have been infected by the coronavirus, of whom 38 have already died and 26 have recovered.
Around the world, over 416,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded, of whom 18,507 have died and 101,090 have recovered.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan City in Hubei province in China in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
The coronavirus is a family of viruses with surfaces having a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
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