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BJMP suspends jail visits amid COVID-19 scare — official

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said all jail visits in Metro Manila would be suspended starting 12 noon Wednesday amid the threat of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This was confirmed to GMA News Online by BJMP spokesperson Xavier Solda: “I can confirm that the jail visitation in 42 jails of the National Capital Region has already been suspended starting 12 noon today.”

Likewise, jail visits in Regions I, III (all jails in the province of Bulacan, Angeles District Jail Male and Female Dormitories in Pampanga, Cabanatuan City District Jail, Talavera Municipal Jail and San Jose City District Jail in Nueva Ecija), IV-A (Cavite, in Rizal, Cainta, Binangonan and Antipolo jails, and jails in Cabuyao, Calamba and San Pablo in Laguna province), and XI have also been temporarily suspended, Solda said.

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Corrections announced that prison visits are suspended for a week due to the COVID-19 scare.

According to the BuCor, the suspension covers the New Bilibid Prison and all BuCor’s operating prison and penal farms. No inmate had shown symptoms of COVID-19 so far. 

At present, the Department of Health said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines had increased to 33.

President Rodrigo Duterte already declared a public health state of emergency following the rising number of cases. 

National task force

In a separate statement, Solda said the BJMP has activated its national task force COVID-19 to step up measures in securing jails and the prisoners against the disease.

"Sa lahat po ng ating mga pasilidad, may mga nurses na nagmomonitor sa ating mga PDL lalo na po sa ating mga elderlies. We have roving doctors including medical staff from local health units supporting us," he said.

Solda said BJMP chief Jail Director Allan Iral has directed to utilize appropriate resources and implement urgent and critical measures to prevent COVID-19 which include:

  • Prohibit the entry of symptomatic visitors;
  • Enforce the no contact policy (hugging, handshaking and kissing) among visitors and the PDL;
  • A distance of one meter /three feet shall be observed when communicating with visitors, PDL and personnel to avert the spread of the disease;
  • Personnel and visitors to include service providers should wear face mask and shall pass through thermal scanning before entering the jail;
  • Wardens shall provide a designated area for visitation with proper ventilation;
  • Availability of disinfectants in strategic locations;
  • Posting of tarpaulins and posters on COVID-19;
  • Installation of trash bins for infectious wastes;
  • Always observe proper hand washing and proper hygiene to protect oneself against COVID-19; and
  • Conduct massive information drive on said disease among our personnel, PDL and visitors

For the meantime, Solda said families of inmates could still see their loved ones who are imprisoned through the e-Dalaw.

"Makipagugnayan lamang po kayo sa ating mga welfare and development officer sa jails para sa schedule," Solda said. — Anna Felicia Bajo/RSJ, GMA News