BJMP builds coronavirus isolation facility

Bonz Magsambol

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BJMP builds coronavirus isolation facility
The move comes after a former prisoner died of acute heart ailment and with suspected coronavirus infection

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Thursday, April 9, said that it has completed a coronavirus isolation facility in its new jail site in Payatas, Quezon City, that will house Filipinos with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

This came after a former person deprived of liberty (PDL) died of acute myocardial infraction – a kind of heart ailment, and hypertension – and with suspected coronavirus infection.

“Taking the attending physician’s point of view, citing possible COVID 19 as a contributing condition is a piece of information that we cannot take lightly,” said BJMP spokesperson Chief Inspector Xavier Solda. 

Solda added that “our position is always at the side of caution; that is why we triple our efforts in establishing an isolation center outside the jail facility.”

The BJMP said that contact tracing was done and they identified 17 PDL who needed to be isolated. 

Aside from building the isolation facility, the BJMP also implemented other preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks by personnel and PDL, use of foot bath, thermal scanning, and the disinfection of facilities.

Other facilities

According to BJMP, the isolation facility will only cater to PDL with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

Set up with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its Philippine counterpart,  it has a 48-bed capacity consisting of 4 tents with electricity, water, sanitation, as well as with medical consumables, basic medical equipment and hospital furniture and hygiene materials.

“I learned that this is, in fact, the first global project of its kind by the ICRC, in response to prison and detention needs to fight COVID 19; that is why we are thankful for the support,” BJMP chief jail director Allan Iral said in a statement.

The ICRC said in a separate statement that 3 more isolation facilities were being set up outside Metro Manila: Fernando District Jail in Pampanga (for Region III), Quezon District Jail in Pagbilao (Region IV-A), and the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. 

“To ensure appropriate implementation of prevention and case management, the support for the sites’ operations includes infection control training and three-months supply of personal protective equipment, hygiene/disinfectant kits and basic medical equipment for emergency response teams and isolation center staff,” the ICRC said. 

The ICRC has been working in prisons in over 90 countries, including the Philippines, on addressing causes and consequences of jail congestion.

“Physical distancing is a privilege simply not available to people behind bars. Overcrowding and limited health services mean infectious diseases like COVID-19 can spread fast and wide inside detention facilities,” said Boris Michel, ICRC head of delegation in the Philippines.

United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet earlier warned that neglecting prisoners in the face of the coronavirus pandemic is “potentially catastrophic.”

Bachelet urged the release of low-risk offenders and the sick, especially those vulnerable to infection, to prevent the spread of the virus in places already suffering from congestion and health issues, among others. (READ: LIST: Countries releasing prisoners over coronavirus fears)

As of Wednesday, April 8, the Philippines had 3,870 cases of coronavirus, with 182 deaths and 96 recoveries. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.