By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
Four persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the Sta. Ana Police Station in Manila tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), police officials confirmed Thursday (May 7).
Citing the Manila Health Department (MHD), Lt. Col. Evangeline Martos, Sta. Ana Police Station commander, said the first detainee who tested positive for the disease may have contracted it after a visit to the hospital.
She said the PDL went to East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City on April 10 after suffering from tuberculosis and boils. The detainee then tested positive for COVID-19.
After this, rapid testing was done on April 27 on Sta. Ana Police Station’s 173 PDLs and 48 personnel, of whom eight detainees tested positive for the disease.
Martos said those who tested positive were brought to the Del Pan Quarantine Facility for confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, where four were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.
The station commander said prior to this, they were complacent that they would not have any COVID-19 cases in the station because the last time that someone visited the detainees was on February 14.
But now, Martos fears that the overcrowding in the jail can lead to more PDLs suffering from boils and tuberculosis, if not COVID-19.
In highly congested Philippine jails, physical distancing guidelines cannot be observed, making prisoners, jail guards, and other personnel more susceptible to infection.
Both the Bureau of Corrections and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology reported COVID-19 cases in their jails.
Earlier, nearly 10,000 inmates were released from jail in a bid to contain the spread of the disease. Among those who were released include detainees who have been detained up to six months, those awaiting trial because they cannot afford to post bail, and qualified elderly and ailing prisoners.
The Philippines now has a total of 10,343 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The latest data showed that 1,618 recovered from the disease while 685 died.