COVID-19 breaks out at PMA | Inquirer News

COVID-19 breaks out at PMA

Despite hard lockdown, the country’s premier military academy reports 37 new virus cases
/ 04:40 AM January 04, 2021

QUARANTINED The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City is quick in enforcing strict quarantine protocols at the onset of the pandemic but still recorded new COVID-19 cases. The PMA also sees a change in leadership amid the health crisis. In this photo taken on Nov. 16, 2020, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay (left) is welcomed by cadets during a turnover of command. —PHOTO COURTESY OF PMA

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The coronavirus disease has cut through the defenses of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) despite enforcing a hard lockdown since February to protect its cadets from the pandemic.

Three infections were first recorded inside the military campus of Fort del Pilar after close to 400 tests were conducted there from Dec. 16 to Dec. 18, 2020. By Saturday, however, the number of people who tested positive for the virus rose to 37.


Activities suspended

The results did not indicate whether the new patients were cadets, soldiers, teachers, or family members of enlisted PMA personnel who were staying inside the forested campus during the holidays. Those who tested positive were listed only as Fort del Pilar dwellers, the city health services office said.


Some of the patients are between 19 and 22 years old. The PMA has yet to officially comment on the lab results, It has scheduled a news conference this week.
For the most part of 2020, the academy had suspended activities and duties that required cadets to leave campus. The cadets’ training and classroom routines continued while maintaining social distancing protocols and wearing face masks.

Some classroom activities were conducted online by instructors staying at home.

Because of rules against mass gatherings, annual events like the PMA graduation in May were staged without the cadets’ parents and relatives for the first time in recent memory.

‘Changed lives’

Some traditions pushed through, however, such as the year-end skit show “Immaculate Night,” formerly called the “100 Nites Show,” which was held before the May graduation.

No cadets performed the ceremonial chores during the Rizal Day program last week, in which the PMA superintendent, Maj. Gen. Ferdinand Cartojano, was the guest speaker.

“The world stopped turning when the disease struck … it changed our daily lives, it changed how we value life because it took lives in an instant. The virus changed how we all struggle for our nation,” Cartojano said in Filipino during the occasion.


He added: “But there is one aspect that did not change—our resolve and hope that this will end and that tomorrow will be better.” The latest infections at the PMA raised the total number of COVID-19 cases in the city to 3,941, with 301 of them still active.

COVID-19-related fatalities in the city have climbed to 69, many of them involving the elderly and vulnerable due to preexisting health conditions.

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The city government has expanded its critical care centers to respond to possible surges from the holiday weeks, as well as tourism and business activities to rehabilitate the economy.

TAGS: coronavirus Philippines

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