CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Cebu City Health Department on Friday, April 24, confirmed 17 new coronaviruses cases in the Cebu City Jail.
This brings the total number of coronavirus cases in the jail facility to 147, the highest out of any jail in the country. Health officials did not specify how many of the new cases are jail staff and how many are inmates.
The 1,500-capacity jail in Cebu City currently holds 6,000 inmates.
Mass testing for the coronavirus began at the jail after an inmate who died tested positive on Sunday, April 19. (READ: Mass testing at Cebu City jail after inmate who died tests positive for coronavirus)
Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella had initially announced 20 new cases in the city jail on Friday afternoon, but the Cebu City Health Department later clarified that 3 of those were confirmatory tests of previous cases.
Cebu City reported a total of 20 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to 348. The 3 new cases outside the city jail were reported in the following areas:
- Sitio Cabantan, Barangay Luz, 1
- Sitio Bliss, Labangon, 1
- Sitio Cabajar, Guadalupe, 1
The city jail already moved inmates who tested positive for the virus to an isolation facility within the jail premises.
Residents of Sitio Zapatera in Barangay Luz who tested positive were also moved to a quarantine facility at Barrio Luz Elementary School.
Recommended physical distancing measures are nearly impossible to enforce in overpopulated prisons. Advocacy groups have been campaigning for the early release of sickly and the elderly prisoners to decongest the jails. (READ: While government stalls,coronavirus breaks into PH jails)
Cebu City has been under lockdown since March 28. The lockdown was supposed to be lifted on April 30, but Labella extended it to May 15.
The national government on Friday also announced that the lockdown in Cebu City and other cities and provinces in Visayas and Mindanao will last until May 15.
The Philippines now has 7,192 coronavirus cases, with 477 deaths and 762 recoveries. The number of infections worldwide surpassed 2.7 million, while over 190,000 people have died across 193 countries and territories. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com