BJMP to conduct ‘random’ tests of detainees for COVID-19 in QC jail
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) will conduct random COVID-19 testing of inmates in Quezon City Jail, BJMP Spokesperson Major Insp. Xavier Solda said Friday.
“As to the general population, we will be doing a random sampling din sa mga selda para ma-double check natin yung kalagayan ng ibang mga PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) po natin,” BJMP Spokesperson Major Insp. Xavier Solda said in an online press conferences on Friday.
(As to the general population, we will be doing a random sampling in our jail cells to double check the health conditions of our PDLs.)
Recently, the BJMP documented nine inmates from the Quezon City Jail to be positive of COVID-19.
Solda explained that random sampling in jail cells means health personnel will choose vulnerable inmates including senior citizens and those with COVID-19 symptoms.
Solda said the detainees included in random sampling will then undertake testing through the Department of Health.
Solda added that they will conduct random sampling first in Quezon City Jail due to the recent cases.
Asked about testing in other jails, Solda said they are coordinating with other BJMP facilities in other provinces and National Capital Region for possible coronavirus disease cases.
For now, Solda said they are strictly monitoring the Quezon City Jail where they already isolated some 40 inmates in a quarantine facility in Payatas.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed its deep concern for the health of detainees and detention staff, given the current levels of congestion in detention facilities in the Philippines.
“Physical distancing is a privilege simply not available to people behind bars. Overcrowding and limited health services mean infectious diseases like COVID-19 can spread fast and wide inside detention facilities,” said Boris Michel, ICRC head of delegation in the Philippines, in a statement.
Working closely with detention authorities, the ICRC set up four isolation centers for inmates who will be confirmed positive for COVID-19 or classified as persons under investigation (PUI), with mild to moderate symptoms.
The 48-bed isolation facility in the BJMP’s new Quezon City Jail site in Payatas, which will serve entire Metro Manila region, received 17 PUI detainees yesterday, the first day of operations. It consists of four tents set up with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), complete with electricity, water, sanitation, as well as with medical consumables, basic medical equipment and hospital furniture and hygiene materials.
Earlier, the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) urged local government units to include possible carriers of COVID-19 in jails when conducting localized mass testing.
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