MANILA (3rd UPDATE)- An inmate at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) who contracted the coronavirus disease died Thursday night, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said Friday.
It was the first case of a Bilibid prisoner dying of the contagious disease.
"Despite stringent measures undertaken for the past weeks to prevent the incidence of a COVID-19 case, BuCor NBP recorded on Monday its first confirmed COVID-19 positive male PDL (person deprived of liberty) patient," the BuCor said in a statement.
"Today, official report reached this office that said PDL patient expired on the evening of 23 April 2020," it said.
It said the prisoner's relatives were already informed and that the NBP Hospital has coordinated with the RITM "for proper disposition" of the remains.
The BuCor said the inmate, who was from the medium security compound at the Muntinlupa penitentiary, was admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on April 17.
Other inmates who had interacted with the patient and earlier quarantined "remain asymptomatic as of this time," BuCor said. Prison authorities are monitoring their health, it added.
"BuCor is assuring the public that all courses of action needed to contain the spread of the virus is strictly enforced and followed. It is implementing rigorous infection control protocols and continuously adjusting its response to protect the larger PDL population," it said.
As of January 2020, the BuCor's total prison population stood at 29,173, according to data on its official website. It is the most densely populated penal facility in the country.
Earlier, 18 female inmates from the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong who were also diagnosed with the coronavirus disease were transferred to Bilibid, prompting relatives of other prisoners to complain.
The BuCor, however, made the assurance that the sick, most of whom were asymptomatic, were isolated from the general prison population.
Various groups have urged the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice to release low-risk offenders and those most vulnerable to contracting the virus, including the sick and elderly, as they faced the threat of infection in the country's crowded jails.
Latest tally of COVID-19 cases in Philippine jails:
- Quezon City Jail – 9 inmates, 9 staff
- Correctional Institution for Women Mandaluyong – 21 inmates, 1 staff
- BJMP Central Visayas, Cebu City Jail – 126 inmates (including 1 inmate dead), and 20 personnel
- New Bilibid Prison – 1 inmate
- with reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News