Bishop airs concern after 18 QC jail inmates, personnel contract Covid-19

Bishop airs concern after 18 QC jail   inmates, personnel contract Covid-19

Inmates at Quezon City Jail. COURTESY OF ECPPC

By CBCP News

April 17, 2020

Manila, Philippines

The spread of coronavirus into a congested jail facility has triggered deep concern from the bishops’ prison ministry.

Nine detainees and nine personnel at the Quezon City Jail have tested positive for the virus, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology said.

The BJMP said it is now conducting extensive contact tracing to contain the contagious respiratory disease.

The infected inmates were brought to a quarantine facility in Payatas.

The prison employees afflicted with the virus were also advised to undergo home quarantine as they do not have sever symptoms.

Bishop Joel Baylon of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care said they are hoping that all measures taken by the BJMP will stem the spread of the virus.

“We hope and pray that the protocols which have been set in motion will help these patients to recover fast and further prevent the spread of the disease,” Baylon said.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, meanwhile, described the detainees’ situation as a ‘nightmare’.

“The nightmare for prisoners has begun. That makes all of them inside PUIs (persons under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring),” he said.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos has earlier demanded for the government “to act with urgency” to decongest prisons and conduct mass testing.

“Or else, God forbid, prisons and those in them may sink like ill-fated Diamond Princess and other cruise ships, as physical distancing and self-isolation are spatially impossible,” Alminaza said.

“Political prisoners, the sick, the elderly and those detained on petty crimes and misdemeanor may all be considered for release – this is a matter of life and death, calling for extraordinary measures,” he said.