2nd COVID-19 death in Zamboanga City jail confirmed
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines —The female inmate who was earlier suspected of having contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and died on Thursday, April 30, at a hospital here has just been confirmed to be the 60th COVID-19 case in Zamboanga City and the second COVID-19 death inside the city’s highly-congested jail.
Sheila Belen Covarrubias, Zamboanga City public information officer, said test results have confirmed that the 62-year old woman who was detained at the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC), was positive for COVID-19.
Three days earlier, the woman complained of breathing difficulty and was rushed to the Mindanao Central Sanitarium hospital, where she died hours later.
“Her death was suspected to be COVID-related and the (test) results confirming her case arrived this afternoon, May 3,” Covarrubias said. “She is the third COVID-19 mortality for Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Peninsula.”
The woman died of community-acquired pneumonia, diabetes mellitus type 2, uncontrolled hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, Covarubbias said in an earlier statement issued by the Zamboanga City Task Force COVID-19.
She was the 51st case inside the city jail and the second case to have died.
Earlier, ZCRC chief warden appealed for prayers and “understanding” as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases spiked up to 50 inside the jail facility, a high-risk area for contagion, and where physical distancing proved impossible.
Of the 50 cases, one had died, another one was confined at a hospital, while two jail personnel had been admitted to an isolation facility outside the jail.
Aljas said all inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19 were “isolated” inside a makeshift quarantine area they made inside the heavily congested facility.
He said two cells—cell 15 and cell 20—and several kiosks and a basketball court were converted into makeshift quarantine and isolation areas for inmates with COVID-19. They covered these makeshift isolation areas with plastic material or cellophane to prevent anyone from crossing the defined boundaries and restricted inmates from going near them.
Aljas described the jail facility as “highly congested” and “very susceptible to contagion.”
“(The) dimension of the facility is not big,” he said. “We are beyond the 1,000 percent congestion rate.” He said the facility’s 600 square meter area had been housing a total of 3,319 inmates, 374 of them women, and 128 jail personnel.
“Given the over 3,000 individuals inside the facility, social distancing is not applied,” he said.
Dr. Dulce Miravite, the city health officer and head of Zamboanga City Task Force COVID-19, warned the situation could get worse but there was no report yet whether the sick inmates should be taken out of jail or moved to other isolation facilities in the city.
Zamboanga City only has two isolation facilities; namely, the one in Lantaka area and the regional training facility of the Department of Health (DOH) in Barangay Cabatangan. But both facilities have been filled to capacity, health officials said.
Dr. Justin Paber, public information officer of the ZCMC, also said ZCMC earlier identified for the treatment of COVID-19 patients was already housing 200 patients, way beyond its 104-bed capacity.
On April 20, a 47-year old inmate from ZCRC died at the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC). His test results came five days later, confirming him to be stricken with COVID-19. Later, on April 26, another inmate also tested positive for the disease and had since been admitted to a hospital for isolation.
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