Virus infects 123 inmates in Cebu City | Inquirer News

Virus infects 123 inmates in Cebu City

Jail is next COVID-19 hot zone after Barangay Luz; total cases reach 312

INFECTION ZONE An outbreak of the coronavirus has been reported in the Cebu City Jail three days after a detainee died of the disease. The jail, designed for only 1,500 inmates, holds more than 6,000 people. —DALE ISRAEL

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — At least 123 inmates at the jail here tested positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 312.

The jail, with a total of 127 inmates contracting the virus, has become the second area in this city with a high number of COVID-19 cases after Barangay Luz, where 138 people were infected.


Two female officers of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Central Visayas also tested positive for the disease and had undergone home isolation.


The new cases in the overcrowded city jail were discovered during a mass testing after a 41-year-old detainee died of the disease on April 19.

Senior Insp. Jay Ylanan, the BJMP regional information officer, said jail officers had implemented a lockdown even before any of the inmates and jail personnel tested positive for the virus. Jail visits were also suspended.

But jail officials were clueless on how the inmates and the two BJMP personnel acquired the virus. The facility, originally designed for just 1,800 inmates, is now packed with 6,582.


Cebu City has seen a spike in its cases in the past two weeks, mostly in the city jail and Sitio Zapatera in Barangay Luz.

At a press briefing via Facebook on Wednesday, Mayor Edgardo Labella hinted at a possible extension of the enhanced community quarantine in the city, which now has 312 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“We might extend the [quarantine] for about two weeks more or maybe until May 30 as the need arises,” Labella said. The lockdown began on March 28 and was supposed to end on April 28.


On Wednesday, 139 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the city, bringing the total number of cases to 312, with six deaths and 16 recoveries.

Nine new cases were also found in Barangay Labangon, three in Luz, and one each in Barangay Kasambagan, C. Padilla and Inayawan, said the city health department.

Luz alone reported 138 cases. Of this, 63 had been taken on Tuesday night to the village’s school, which serves as a temporary quarantine facility for the community.


City Councilor Dave Tumulak said 50 asymptomatic patients were placed in one building, while 13 others with mild symptoms were housed in another within the school compound.

Tumulak said the city health department was trying to convince the rest of the COVID-19 patients in Zapatera to transfer to Barrio Luz Elementary School to avoid infecting their neighbors.

Zapatera, a poor village with a dense population of 9,000, has been on lockdown after health officials feared community transmission.

Ronilio Sab-a, village chief of Luz, said he was grateful to the city government and private donors for providing the residents food, water, and other basic necessities.

“We have been looking for ways to solve the problem and I’m happy that our people here now obey the stay-at-home policy,” he said as testing in Zapatera continues.“We just have to keep praying and discipline ourselves. Nothing is impossible if we pray to God and help one another,” Sab-a said.

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Each night, he added, residents of Zapatera pray the rosary. “In moments like this, we should cling to God because only Him can help us,” he said.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19

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