Bureau of Corrections

As COVID-19 cases rise, BuCor suspends visitation in New Bilibid Prison

Jairo Bolledo

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As COVID-19 cases rise, BuCor suspends visitation in New Bilibid Prison

VISIT. Bureau of Corrections chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. visit the New Bilibid Prison's maximum security compound on April 12.

Jairo Bolledo/ Rappler

The Bureau of Corrections says 48 individuals inside the national penitentiary have tested positive for COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines – In light of the rising COVID-19 cases, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. suspended the visitation in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City and in the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City.

The BuCor made the announcement on Wednesday night, May 3, adding that the visitation will remain suspended until further notice. According to the data provided by Dr. Ma. Cecilia Villanueva, BuCor health services director, 32 individuals out of 407 tested on May 2 yielded positive results.

In tests conducted on Wednesday, 16 out of 174 also tested positive for COVID-19.

In total, 48 have tested positive for the virus. However, the BuCor has yet to clarify if these individuals are persons deprived of liberty (PDL) or BuCor personnel or officials.

The corrections bureau added that most of the cases came from Bilibid’s maximum compound, which houses 18,000 PDLs. The BuCor added the individuals are either asymptomatic or mild cases, and currently in isolation ward in the national penitentiary.

Two years na tayong walang kaso ng COVID-19, most likely nahawa and ating PDLs sa dumalaw sa kanya (We had no COVID-19 case in the last two years so most likely, our PDL was infected by his/ her visitor),” Villanueva said in a statement.

The statement said the BuCor will also resume contact tracing inside the maximum security compound. Villanueva, as quoted by BuCor’s statement, said 99% of the PDLs are fully vaccinated, while 94% already received their first booster shot.

For the PDLs’ relatives who might have concerns, the BuCor advised them to contact Bilibid’s Inmate Visitation Service Unit at 84780808 local 161, and 85321736 for the CIW.

As of April 27, Octa Research said the seven-day positivity rate in Metro Manila had increased from 8.1% to 12.3%.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, an average of 60 PDLs died in Bilibid per month. With a population of over 28,000, the national penitentiary suffers from a congestion rate of 335%, as of 2020. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.