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No visits in Bilibid, all BuCor prisons for a week amid COVID-19 threat

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is suspending visitation privileges in its prison facilities for a week as a safety measure amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The suspension will start on Wednesday, March 11, and will cover the New Bilibid Prison and all the BuCor's operating prison and penal farms, the bureau's Public Information Office announced Tuesday.

The BuCor said it is "strictly implement[ing] its safety protocols in ensuring the welfare of its stakeholders."

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a public health emergency over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“Such declaration would facilitate the implementation of the relevant provisions of Republic Act 11332 to address the COVID-19 threat, including but not limited to mandatory reporting, intensify government response and measures and enforce quarantine and disease control prevention measures,” the President's proclamation stated.

The number of COVID-19 cases has reached 24 Monday night and rose further to 33 on Tuesday afternoon.

"The BuCor move, like the suspension of classes for this week, is in line with the President's proclamation of a state of public health emergency," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters in a message.

"We all know about the overcrowding problem at the national penitentiary. Just one COVID-19 case inside will produce calamitous effects," he said.

The BuCor said no inmate has shown symptoms so far.—AOL, GMA News