COVID-19 penetrates PMA bubble; several cadets, officials infected

Published January 4, 2021, 5:00 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

For the first time since the pandemic erupted in the country in March 2020, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) has conducted a mass testing after several cadets and officials got infected with COVID-19, its spokesperson revealed Monday.

Philippine Military Academy (PMA) (Photo courtesy of PMA Website / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)
Philippine Military Academy (PMA)
(Photo courtesy of PMA Website / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

“It is with deep concern that the Academy confirms the positive COVID-19 cases among the cadets and its military and civilian personnel,” Major Cherryl Tindog, PMA spokesperson, said in a statement.

Tindog did not reveal how many cadets, organic military personnel, and civilian human resource have been infected with the viral disease but she said they were already isolated in an undisclosed facility in Baguio City. 

She said all the infected were asymptomatic and a number of them already recovered. She said the infected individuals were also subjected to contact tracing.

Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, confirmed the infection within the PMA walls as he suggested that it likely originated from the food handlers of the Academy.

“Kinukumpirma po ng pamunuan ng PMA na nagkaroon ng insidente ng COVID-19 infection sa loob ng PMA na kinabibilangan ng mga kadete at food handlers natin, iyong mga nagsisilbi ng pagkain ng mga kadete (The PMA leadership confirms that there is an incident of COVID-19 infection inside the PMA involving the cadets and our food handlers, or those who prepare the food of the cadets),” Arevalo said in a virtual press briefing.

The AFP Cadet Corps has been isolated in a “bubble” from the outside world as the PMA cancelled all of their contact activities and employed online mode of learning instructions to the cadets.

But some of the Academy’s civilian human resource, including the personnel who prepare the food of the cadets every day, are susceptible to acquiring the virus from outside the PMA bubble, Tindog said.

“One way or another, a leak (in) the bubble can occur from day to day activities of the whole community,” Tindog noted.

Arevalo said National Task Force (NTF) chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., who is a former AFP Chief, vowed to send 2,000 RT-PCR test kits to PMA to test more cadets and personnel so they can trace all the infected individuals.

Tindog maintained that the PMA Command remains on top of the situation to address the COVID-19 infection within the Academy. 

She noted that some facilities were placed on lockdown to control the spread of the virus while the disinfection of the affected areas were on-going.

“We assure the parents and their [cadets] families that their health and needs are being attended to by Headquarters PMA,” Tindog said.