Virus cases in Cebu, Zamboanga soar | Inquirer News

Virus cases in Cebu, Zamboanga soar

Most of those who tested positive for COVID-19 are prisoners

PACKED Prisoners look out from their packed cells at the Cebu City Jail in Barangay Kalunasan where 333 inmates have been tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday. The highly congested jail facility has more than 6,000 inmates. —DALE ISRAEL

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines —Two more persons died of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu on Sunday, as the number of cases on the island breached the 1,000-mark.

As of Sunday afternoon, Cebu had a total of 1,084 COVID-19 cases with 13 deaths, the majority of which were recorded in Cebu City.


The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) said the new fatalities were a 39-year-old inmate at Mandaue City Jail and an 80-year-old woman from one of the towns which DOH-7 declined to disclose for fear of causing panic among residents.


The inmate died at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City on May 2.

As of Sunday, Mandaue’s jail had 18 cases, including one death, and the Cebu City Jail, 333. The Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, which is operated by the provincial government and located beside the Cebu City Jail, had 18 cases, including one death.

The 80-year-woman died on April 30, but the results of her swab test came out only on Saturday. The DOH said those who had made contact with her were already being traced.

No interaction

Cebu City continues to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 infections on the island with 910 cases, followed by Mandaue City (89), Lapu-Lapu City (38), and Cebu province (27).

Also tested positive for the virus were at least 17 overseas Filipino workers who were repatriated to Cebu and three health workers.

The DOH did not specify their towns or cities, but said the those infected had not really interacted with the local residents.


Hospital workers taking care of COVID-19 patients are no longer allowed to go outside of their facilities as part of protocol.

“This group (health workers) needs to be separated since the contact tracing activities will be primarily done among hospital staff and interventions will be focused in the hospital setting,” said Jaime Bernadas, DOH regional director.

Jail infection

Cebu City and the province have remained on stringent lockdown even as most areas in the country have eased their situation to general community quarantine (GCQ).

In Zamboanga City, the warden of Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC) appealed for prayers and understanding as the number of COVID-19 cases rose among inmates.

“We hope we can overcome this,” said Jail Chief Insp. Nathaniel Aljas, who was among the officers who opted to remain inside the ZCRC. So far, he has not contracted the virus.

All of the city’s 29 new confirmed cases were reported at the ZCRC, involving two jail officers and 27 inmates, according to Dr. Dulce Miravite, the city health officer and head of the Zamboanga City Task Force COVID-19.

This brought to 50 the total number of COVID-19 cases inside the jail, which accounts for over 83 percent of the 60 cases now recorded in the city.

Originally set to transition to GCQ on May 1, the city remains on lockdown until May 15.

High-risk areas

“The city jail is one of our high-risk areas,” said Miravite. “Since we have cases here, the chances of transmission are very high. The place cannot practice physical distancing, so it’s high risk for infection, really contagious.”

She warned that conditions could get worse inside the jail, which is located on Varela Street and only 1.3 kilometers from City Hall.

The spike of cases inside the jail followed the death on April 20 of a 47-year-old inmate suspected for COVID-19 at Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC). The results of his test, which were released five days after his death, showed him to be positive for COVID-19.

Another inmate who tested positive has been confined at ZCMC since April 26.

Aljas said the jail was “beyond 1,000 percent” congested and “very susceptible to contagion.” It currently has 3,319 inmates and 128 jail personnel.

No physical distancing

“Given the over 3,000 individuals inside the facility, social distancing is not applied,” he said.

To isolate those infected, the warden said two cells, several kiosks and a basketball court had been converted into quarantines and isolation areas.

Aljas said jail personnel had been misting the facility three times a day but were now running out of disinfectants. “We also distributed face masks and required everyone to observe personal hygiene every day,” he added.

The city’s isolation facilities in the Lantaka area and the regional training center of the DOH in Barangay Cabatangan have long been filled to capacity.

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Dr. Justin Paber, public information officer of ZCMC, said the hospital was already taking care of 200 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases, way beyond its 104-bed capacity. INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19

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