CEBU, Philippines — Only Cebu City registered new coronavirus cases among local government units in Cebu island yesterday, April 25, and all cases, 63 of them, are from the city jail.
The cases are from the female dormitory but Dr. Daisy Villa of the City Health Department said most of the new patients are actually male inmates because the female dormitory now houses both female and male prisoners.
With a total of 209 positive cases at the jail, Cebu City now has a total of 411 positive cases as of yesterday.
Mayor Edgardo Labella said that with more and more inmates testing positive by the day, the city health department is working closely with the Bureau of Jail Management & Penology (BJMP) in getting swab samples for testing and in tracing the people the patients have come in contact with.
Inmates who tested positive have also been isolated.
Labella ordered contact tracing and mass swab testing after the jail recorded its first positive case earlier this month. This led to the discovery of the second case, another inmate at the facility. The first inmate has already died.
The jail has been on lockdown since March and even jail officers who are stationed inside have not been allowed to go out.
Jail Senior Inspector Jay Ylanan has said it is possible that the virus reached the facility through supplies given by the family of the inmates in a practice known as “patunol.” It was only recently after the first patient was identified that supplies from the inmates’ families are disinfected before being brought to the jail.
Councilor David Tumulak said Mayor Labella and the BJMP have agreed to allow the practice but limited the items that can be turned over to the inmates, including face masks, face shields, alcohol, sanitizers, Vitamin C, and medicines.
Food and other supplies are prohibited.
The “patunol” is scheduled every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
It was on March 18 when Labella suspended visitation privileges at the city jail and Operation Second Chance, the city’s facility for minor offenders.
The jail facility has a population of 6,582.
Last April 23, the city health department conducted targeted mass testing at barangays as part of the city’s drive to do extensive surveillance, screening, and monitoring.
The barangays targeted were Luz with 42 tests, Hipodromo with seven tests, Inayawan with 48 tests, Suba with 88 tests done, Kasambagan with 33 tests.
This was on top of the 150 tests done at the city jail.
Yesterday, the city opened the Cebu City Quarantine Center at the North Reclamation Area where COVID-19 patients will be isolated. They do not include inmates at the jail.
In Mandaue City, personnel from the Disaster Risk Reduction and Managememt Office and the Traffic Enforcement and Management delivered “lockdown kits” to residents of Sitio Sili in barangay Cambaro, which was on lockdown effectively starting yesterday.
The lockdown kits contain 10 kilos rice, cooking oil, 10 canned goods, 3 pack vinegar, 3 pack soy sauce, 10 pcs bath soap, 10 3in1 coffee, 4 sachets shampoo, 4 sachets toothpaste, 3 big packs bihon and 10 liters of purified drinking water.
The kit is good for two weeks.
Atty. John Eddu Ibañez, chief of staff of Mayor Jonas Cortes, said 300 families are on lockdown in the sitio.
As of April 24, sitio Sili has five residents confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19, one of whom has died. The fatality is a 70-year-old male (the first COVID-19 patient in the said barangay). The three other victims were his wife and two grandchildren. While the other one was reportedly a barangay tanod, who helped the first victim transferred from his home to the hospital.
The lockdown kits are given to residents affected by the lockdown since residents can no longer go out to buy basic needs.
The contact numbers of barangay official are also included in the kit for residents to call or text in case they need something not included in the kits.
“The City Government of Mandaue is working full time and on overdrive to assist the needs of its citizens,” the statement reads.
Ibañez said the city government is planning to conduct swab testing of inmates at the Mandaue City Jail today or tomorrow after a resident was found positive for COVID-19 at the hospital.
Mandaue has 11 confirmed cases, two recoveries and one mortality.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health said Lapu-Lapu City only has eight confirmed cases on April 24, 2020, contrary to the 10 cases announced by Mayor Junard Chan.
DOH-7 said one of the 10 included in Chan’s list is actually the 24-year-old inmate in Mandaue City who is a resident of Lapu-Lapu.
DOH said the case should be recorded under Mandaue City.
The other case included in Chan’s list is actually an Overseas Filipino Worker who was stranded in Lapu-Lapu but is a resident of Iloilo.
DOH-7 said that since the OFW is not from Cebu, the latter cannot be tagged as coming from Central Visayas.
In an earlier statement, DOH-7 Director Jaime Bernadas informed the public that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has been implementing measures that would contain the spread of COVID-19.
He said that the new cases being added are product of contact tracing among inmates and jail officers.
“They are having negative to mild symptoms and are now being isolated. Vulnerable population has been removed from the general jail population and contingency plans are also being made and implemented accordingly,” he said. JMO (FREEMAN)