THERE is now a Covid-19 outbreak in the congested Davao City Jail in Barangay Ma-a after the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-Davao Region (BJMP-Davao) reported 28 new cases, bringing the total cases to 76 as of Monday, November 30, 2020.
BJMP-Davao regional health chief Dr. Daniel David said in a virtual presser that out of the 1,700 male inmates, 160 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) were identified to have close contact with a PDL who was first reported to have tested positive for the Sars-CoV-2 on November 19.
The first Covid-positive PDL died at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) after being diagnosed with pulmonary congestion secondary to end-stage renal failure. Seven other inmates who underwent swab tests as one of their requirements for transfer to a rehabilitation center also tested positive after its results came out on November 21.
Out of the 160 identified closed contacts, a total of 68 PDLs and eight jail personnel yielded positive results.
David said the 68 positive inmates were placed inside its designated 100-bed isolation facility within the jail compound. While coronavirus-positive jail officers were transferred to the city isolation facility.
The official said they are still investigating how the viral transmission started inside the city jail.
This is despite imposing a jail lockdown, including prohibiting physical jail visits, since the pandemic started in mid-March this year and imposing minimum health standards within the jail compound. Inmates transferred to the city jail are also undergoing reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.
"Kinukunan namin ng demographic profile lahat ng PDL kung saan yung activities, at possible point of entry, kung bakit nakapasok [ang virus]. Ongoing pa ang investigation (We are still getting the demographic profile of all PDLs and their recent activities. We are also investigating the point of entry, and how the virus entered the vicinity)," David said.
He said based on the Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, they are not required to test all 1,700 inmates, as only close contacts, symptomatic, and vulnerable inmates are prioritized.
“Alam naman natin na itong Covid[-19 testing] is time-based siya. As of now, hindi sila nakakalabas, naka-lockdown din sila sa kanilang block and then namomonitor namin sila sa loob (We know Covid-19 testing is time-based. The rest of the PDLs, as of now, cannot leave their respective blocks because they are on lockdown and being monitored inside),” David said.
The separate female dormitory within the city jail remains "Covid-19 free."
BJMP-Davao Spokesperson Edo Lobenia said as of November 28, 2020, DOH confirmed an additional 25 PDLs and three personnel positive for the coronavirus. These are the last set of results from the mass testing conducted on November 23.
Out of the eight personnel, four are currently isolated inside the jail isolations waiting for pick-up by the Rapid Action Team for transfer, while the other four were already transferred to a DOH Isolation Facility.
“Most confirmed PDLs are asymptomatic and [have] shown no signs and symptoms. All PDLs who tested positive for Covid-19 are now isolated from the general population, while all close contact, albeit them, bearing negative results, are still isolated and will still undergo 21 days quarantine. Contact tracing and investigation regarding the point of entry for the contagion inside the jail facility is still underway,” Edo said.
Except for Davao City, the BJMP spokesperson said the rest of the jail facilities in the region have no recorded coronavirus transmission among inmates, although one jail personnel in the Lupon District Jail in late June tested positive.
Despite the reported outbreak, jail management is continually coordinating with different health officials to address the situation.
"The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology is in control of the situation as we have already long-established contingency plans for these cases," BJMP-Davao said.