2 of jailed Piston 6 protesters test positive for COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines – Two of the jeepney drivers belonging to the so-called Piston 6 who were jailed for several days after protesting in Caloocan City have tested positive for the coronavirus, transport group Piston announced on Thursday.
According to the group, the two drivers are already isolated and did not attend any protest action last June 12, Independence Day. All six went through a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test, considered as the gold standard in COVID-19 testing.
Piston did not mention where the drivers may have contracted the disease, but they noted that the state of the detention facility in Caloocan where the drivers were detained was unfit for physical distancing and hygiene protocols during the pandemic.
“Sa loob ng kulungan, nagsisiksikan ang 153 katao sa isang napakaliit na pasilidad. Inirereklamo ang kawalan ng social distancing na nagpapataaas ng tsansa na magkahawahan sa sakit,” Piston said in a Facebook post.
(The detention facility is crammed with 153 detainees inside. The drivers and the detainees were complaining of a lack of social distancing which increases the chance of contracting the disease.)
“Dagdag pa rito ang kawalan ng malinis na tubig upang makapaglinis nang maayos ng katawan ang mga nakakulong. Labas-pasok rin ang iba’t ibang tao sa detention center na ito,” they added.
(Add this to the lack of a clean water source which would allow inmates to disinfect themselves. Different people were also coming in and out of this detention center.)
Resulta ng COVID-19 test sa Piston 6, lumabas naNitong June 11, sumailalim sa COVID-19 RT-PCR test ang Piston 6…
The drivers held a protest rally last June 3, after the quarantine restrictions for Metro Manila was eased without allowing various transportation modes like jeepneys to resume operation.
Last June 10, 72-year-old Elmer Cordero, one of the Piston 6, worried that they might get the coronavirus from the unsanitary conditions inside the facility — telling his arresting officers to tie him to a tree instead.
Piston is asking people to support their recovery, even while urging the government to allow jeepney drivers to operate again.
“Sa ngayon, inaanyayahan po namin ang lahat na suportahan sila upang mabilis na makarekober at gumaling mula sa sakit (We urge people to support the sick drivers so that they can recover quickly from COVID-19),” Piston said.
“Nawa po’y makiisa tayo sa panawagang balik-pasada, na siyang tunay na makalulutas sa aming mga kumakalam na sikmura sa panahon ng pandemya. Manawagan rin po tayo ng mass testing dahil hindi lahat ng infected ay nalalaman ng publiko. Manawagan rin po tayo ng libreng pagpapagamot ng COVID-19,” they added.
(Let us rally behind the call to resume jeepney operations, which would alleviate our hunger in this time of the pandemic. We are also calling for mass testing, because not all infected patients know that they carry the disease, while calling for free COVID-19 medication.)
Prior to this incident, several rights groups have urged the government and the judiciary to release inmates who are charged for non-violent cases, to avoid transmissions inside congested penal facilities.
As of June 11, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology said that 745 inmates and 125 of their personnel have been infected. Nationwide, 27,799 patients have COVID-19, 1,116 of which have died while 7,090 have recovered.
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