Elderly correctional inmate tests positive for coronavirus

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A 72-year-old inmate at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW)  tested positive for coronavirus, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag confirmed Saturday, April 18.

"Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) at Mandaluyong City reported that one PDL patient hospitalized at the Sta Ana Hospital (Manila), tested positive for coronavirus," Chaclag said in a statement on Saturday.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said they are still confirming whether the inmate contracted the virus at the CIW or at the Sta Ana Hospital.

"CIW is verifying if the Person Deprived of Liberty (PDL) who tested positive may have been infected while at the hospital or while she was inside the CIW facility," said Perete.

Chaclag said the inmate was first confined at the CIW infirmary after catching pneumonia Monday, April 13. The inmate was recommended for hospital transfer and was moved to the Sta Ana Hospital the same day.

"Corrections Superintendent Virginia Mangawit reported to the Director General that the patient is 72 years old, with history of diabetes miletus type2, and was diagnosed at the CIW infirmary with community acquired pneumonia on Monday," Chaclag said.

Everyone, from inmates to medical personnel, who have had contact with the patient are now being tested for coronavirus.

Earlier, BuCor said there were 14 inmates who were suspected cases of coronavirus at the CIW, and 9 suspected cases at the New Bilibid Prison.

Chaclag said that as of Saturday, there are no other confirmed cases in the other 6 penal colonies of BuCor including Bilibid.

"As for the other Operating Prison and Penal Farms, no Covid-19 positive case has been reported nor monitored," said Chaclag. 

The government has been stalling on a final decision whether or not to release low-risk and vulnerable prisoners amid the pandemic, an action taken by at least 6 other countries in the world.

While waiting for the final decision, 9 inmates at the congested Quezon City Jail have also tested positive, leaving families desperate and in fear for their relatives.

The Supreme Court has asked for a government answer to a petition demanding the release of low-risk and vulnerable prisoners. The government answer is due April 24.

CIW was among the facilities trapped in the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) scandal, where earlier freed convicts had to go back to jail as the government revised its rules.

It is still unclear whether all returnees of CIW were able to regain freedom, and if those eligible had in fact been granted their GCTAs. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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