By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) is investigating the possibility of clustering of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
In a media briefing on Tuesday, DOH officer in charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said they were still validating the circulating reports about the number of persons deprived of liberty who have tested positive for Covid-19.
“Although in our ESR (Event-based Surveillance and Response) reporting, ang natala pa rin sa amin ay isa. So ibig sabihin, hindi pa nila nare-report itong (we have logged only one so it is not yet reported to us, these) clusters of infection,” she said.
“Pinapuntahan na po natin ito sa ating Center for Health Development (We instructed the Center for Health Development to visit the NBP) so they can investigate.”
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) suspended the visitation privileges of PDLs at the NBP and the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City where one staff member was found to have tested positive for Covid-19 on May 3.
Consequently, the BuCor conducted rapid antigen tests on 2,216 PDLs at the NBP in Mandaluyong City. Of the tally, about 16 tested positive for Covid-19 as of Monday afternoon. They were transferred from their cells to isolation wards.
Meanwhile, 11 out of 50 NBP employees tested positive for Covid-19. They were given medical prescriptions and instructed to isolate in their homes.
Vergeire said Covid-19 testing is part of health protocols, especially in congregated settings, such as prison cells.
Apart from tests, she said, the PDLs and the employees must be fully vaccinated and must be provided added protection, such as face masks, to prevent possible transmission.
“The employees in this kind of setup should know what to do right away. There should be this close monitoring and vigilance among our inmates and patients,” she said. (PNA)