By Chito Chavez
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Thursday said that it has strengthened its defense against the novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) with the completion of its “COVID-19 Isolation Center in Quezon City with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC)’’.
Citing an incident, the BJMP was informed last Friday that a former Person Deprived of Liberty (PDL) died of acute myocardial infarction, a kind of heart ailment, and hypertension.
In his death certificate, it was indicated under other conditions contributing to his death is possible COVID-19 infection.
“Taking the attending physician’s point of view, citing possible COVID-19 as contributing condition is a piece of information that we cannot take lightly,” said BJMP spokesperson Jail Chief Inspector Xavier Solda.
“Our position is always in the side of caution; that is why we triple our efforts in establishing an isolation center outside the jail facility,” he added.
BJMP NCR Regional Director Jail Chief Superintendent Ignacio Panti immediately convened the Regional Task Force COVID-19 of the National Capital Region (NCR) and directed the immediate conduct of contact tracing among PDLs who came in contact with the subject PDL.
Solda stressed the need for 17 PDL to be isolated after the contact tracing process for a more focused medical care.
BJMP Chief Jail Director Allan Iral has reiterated his order of a “continuous strict implementation of precautionary measures in jails such as physical distancing, wearing of face mask among personnel and PDL, use of foot bath, thermal scanning, and disinfection of facilities particularly the isolation areas’’.
He also directed the unimpeded monitoring of the mental health status of both PDL and personnel “for appropriate intervention in relation to the recent pronouncement from the national government on extended lockdown and to maximize the use of electronic dalaw or e-Dalaw for PDL and the conduct of daily dialogue with PDL’’.
Iral also thanked the ICRC and PRC for the immediate assistance they extended to the BJMP National Capital Region.
“We would like to thank the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross for the support they extended to establish the isolation center,” said Iral.
“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,” he added.
The isolation center will only cater to PDL with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 for symptomatic management and monitoring and not for severe cases.
All medical personnel who will be operating the said facility have completed the ICRC Training on Handling Infectious Diseases.