IMT antigen testing at ICF on September 22. [Photos from ICF]

The Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF) has isolated 183 personnel and convicts from its subcolony in Montible after they tested positive for COVID-19 in antigen testing, a penal facility official said

ICF information officer CTO II Levi Evangelista said Friday that swab samples taken from seven personnel and 176 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) from the Montible subcolony reacted to antigen tests performed by their medical staff on September 16.

Evangelista, on the other hand, said that on the second antigen testing on September 22, just four personnel and nine prisoners were still positive — all asymptomatic or have no symptoms.

As part of their health protocol, all 183 remain in isolation in a dorm in Montible.

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Evangelista said despite this, the ICF believes they’re “manageable”.

“Ganoon natin na-treat ang cases sa Montible, it is not unusual to us, considering na on several occasions ay nagkaroon na rin tayo ng cases. After the quarantine days, it turned out to be negative, on the security measures, especially ‘yong health protocols ay ginagawa naman natin. Ayon nga lang ay hindi maiwasan that’s why nagkaroon tayo ng panibagong kaso rito,” he said.

The Montible case began when a PDL was taken to the prison clinic for a check-up and, as part of the procedure, received an antigen test. On September 15, the PDL became antigen reactive, and a mass rapid antigen test was performed on September 16.

The Montible subcolony was immediately placed under tight lockdown, while the three subcolonies of Iwahig, Sta. Lucia, and Inagawan are under restrictions that prohibit staff and dependents from entering.

“Unang-una, nabigla rin kami sa number ng PDLs na ‘yon that’s why naging priority naman namin—on September 22, ang team ni Dr. Dean Palanca, IMT, ang nag-conduct ng testing, same PDLs. Fortunately, siyam na lang nag-positive. Kung titingnan natin ang everyday measures na ginawa natin, ‘yon siguro ang naging malaking factor sa mabilis na pag-recover,” he said.

“Hindi natin ma-clear out [bakit bumaba]. Medical staff namin ang nag-conduct [noong September 16 testing], meron naman tayong kits from BuCor (Bureau of Corrections). Sa pakikipag-coordinate natin sa IMT, sila naman ang nag-conduct [noong September 22]. Nagpapasalamat na lang tayo na naging ganoon [ang pagbaba], sa question na kung bakit ganoon, hindi ko masagot,” he added.

The prison administration is also investigating the likelihood that the PDLs who tested positive from the minimum security camp were exposed while working within the prison compound as part of the reformation program.

“Hindi naman natin masabi na ganito talaga nangyari pero in conclusion, sa personnel—ang PDLs though nasa compound ang mga ‘yan, minimum kasi ‘yan. Lumalabas sila for work and other rehabilitation, reformation purposes, of course may escort ‘yan. So ‘yon ang possibility then pagbalik niya sa camp, maaaring ganon. It’s not exactly that way pero maaaring ganon,” he said.

Evangelista emphasized that if high COVID-19 instances are found, the ICF has enough isolation facilities or a prison camp. He informs the PDLs’ families that all steps are being taken to ensure their welfare and health.

“Ang pagbaba is remarkable, pag-recover ng ating mga nag-positive na PDL,” he said.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.