MANILA – Two female inmates from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) have died from the coronavirus disease or COVID-19, the Bureau of Corrections announced late Tuesday night.
The first inmate, 72, died on Monday afternoon (April 27). She was earlier reported to be the first COVID-19 case at the CIW and was hospitalized on April 13 at the Sta. Ana Hospital after experiencing symptoms for pneumonia.
The second inmate died on April 21 at the East Avenue Medical Center due to sepsis, systemic lupus, and pneumonia but her test results only came out on Monday indicating she was also positive for the coronavirus.
The BuCor, in a Facebook post, said the woman had been in and out of EAMC since February 2020 because of her systemic lupus, kidney disease, and other ailments but was last admitted on April 13.
The death of the 2 female inmates brought to 3 the total number of inmates who died due to COVID-19 while in prison.
The New Bilibid Prison, which is also under BuCor, recorded its first death on Thursday last week, an inmate who was admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
Forty-seven other inmates, also from the CIW, are under observation at the NBP’s quarantine facility in Muntinlupa called “Site Harry,” according to BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag.
“So far, no severe symptoms,” he told reporters.
Despite a total of 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the NBP and CIW, BuCor insisted “the rest of the Prison and Penal Farms across the country are still considered COVID-19 free.”
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which oversees detention of inmates undergoing trial and awaiting sentencing, reported 195 inmates and 34 staff had tested positive for the virus as of April 27.
Of the 195 inmates, 146 are from the Cebu City Jail male dorm, 39 from the Cebu City female dorm and 1 from the Mandaue City Jail male dorm. Nine other inmates with COVID-19 are in Quezon City Jail male dorm.
Of the 34 BJMP staff who tested positive, 22 are from the Cebu City Jail male dorm, 2 from Cebu City female dorm and 1 from the regional office in Region VI. The remaining 9 are in Metro Manila, namely: Caloocan City Jail male dorm (2), Marikina City Jail male dorm (1), Pasay City Jail female dorm (1), Quezon City Jail male dorm (4) and Mandaluyong City Jail male dorm (1).
BJMP meanwhile reported 4 recoveries (3 in Quezon City Jail male dorm and 1 in Mandaluyong City Jail male dorm.
The deaths and the rising number of COVID-19 cases add pressure on the Philippine government to act on various calls for release of elderly and sick detainees who are most at risk of contracting the virus and not surviving.
A petition is pending before the Supreme Court while the Department of Justice is studying its options.
The SC has already urged trial court judges to use existing measures to decongest jails while the DOJ’s Board of Pardons and Parole expanded the scope and relaxed the requirements for grant of parole and application for executive clemency.
SC petitioners pointed out Monday that the rising number of COVID-19 cases is proof of the Philippine government’s inability to prevent the spread of the virus in overcrowded jails.