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COVID-19 outbreak in jail: Mayor Ongchuan wants Laoang village placed under ECQ

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The local government of Laoang, Northern Samar has asked the regional task force on coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to place the village where the sub-provincial jail is located under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Mayor Harris Ongchuan made the appeal after 53 inmates and 12 jail guards of the sub-provincial jail in the town’s Doña Luisa village turned positive for Covid-19. About 58 of them were found infected on October 13.

“While we are doing our best to contain the spread of the virus inside this detention facility, we are uncertain as to the extent of affectation especially that some of the Covid-infected are jail guards who go in and out of the facility,” Ongchuan said in a letter dated Oct. 14 to Office of Civil Defense Regional Director, Lord Dyron Torrecarion, the regional task force head.

“In this connection, we respectfully request for your approval to place Barangay Doña Luisa where the Laoang Sub-Provincial Jail is located under ECQ as part of the zoning containment strategy,” he added.

Since Oct. 9, the local government has placed the jail facility under lockdown, just two days after seven inmates caught the virus.

Aside from the persons deprived of liberty (PDL) and jail guards, other Covid-19 patients are a health worker and a government employee. Both of them are confined at the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital.

The infected PDLs and jail guards are currently managed and treated in a common facility inside the sub-provincial jail.

The provincial government has provided additional food subsidy, vitamins, and food supplements to all PDLs and jail guards in the province to boost their immune system said Northern Samar provincial information officer John Allen Berbon said in a phone interview on Thursday.

“In March, prison facilities allow a limited number of visitors, but when cases in the region started to surge last June, the governor issued a directive to temporarily suspend visitation rights,” Berbon added.

Berbon believes that PDLs got infected with the virus while attending court hearings.

In a virtual press briefing on Wednesday, Department of Health Regional Director Minerva Molon said they have been focusing on monitoring Covid-19 transmission in close spaces like jail because the magnitude of the infection in this kind of setting is very high.

The Laoang sub-provincial jail with 182 PDLs, is the first jail facility in the region that recorded confirmed Covid-19 cases. (PNA)