Palawan Provincial Jail file photo

Detainee committals to the Palawan Provincial Jail (PPJ) are temporarily suspended after antigen tests conducted found 14 management employees and 93 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) positive for COVID-19.

Retired police colonel and PPJ warden Gabriel Lopez confirmed Monday, May 3, to Palawan News that 14 of their 100 staff and personnel and 93 of their 574 detainees were “reactive” to the antigen tests conducted on them during the week of April 26.

Of the 14 employees, two had been confirmed positive by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP). Two of the total antigen reactive PDLs had also been confirmed to have COVID-19 by RT PCR.

“Noong [April] 26, nag-positive yong dalawang PDL sa antigen. Bukod doon may apat na employees na positive din. So, ang ginawa, nag-antigen muna lahat ng personnel — ang nag-positive 14. Tapos, isinunod na rin siyempre — to make sure, nag-antigen na rin sa PDL, at ito na nga ang resulta,” Lopez said.

“Iaa-RT PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) silang lahat para malaman talaga kung sino yong confirmed na positive sa kanila. Sa 14, pito pa lang yong na-RT PCR, may pito pang waiting. Sa pito na nauna nang na-test, dalawa na ang positive,” he added.  

Lopez said that because of this, they will temporarily suspend committals from police stations in the province until such time that the RT PCR procedure to determine confirmed cases has been completed.

He said they will also temporarily suspend transactions or virtual hearings, and even commitment to the Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF) until further notice.

“Ngayon ang balak natin is yong… parang hard lockdown. No transaction, so, kahit virtual hearings wala. Tapos yong mga committals — kung may mag-commit sa amin, stop muna. At saka yong mag-commit sa Iwahig, stop rin muna. Siguro yon, kasi lockdown din sila, hindi rin makapasok at makalabas,” he added.

Lopez said the antigen reactive PDLs are temporarily quarantined in the PPJ’s visiting area, while the 14 personnel are in a facility being managed by the Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

The Provincial Health Office (PHO), he said, is helping in the monitoring of their health and is supplying them with vitamin supplements and medicines that are important to their healing from COVID-19. Some of them are experiencing minor coughing, while the rest are asymptomatic.

He said their infection may have been caused by their exposure to the PDLs that came from the ONP, or from the hearings that they attend because there are court judges who want to see them face-to-face from municipalities.

“May nag-positive na PDL galing ospital, sa ONP. Ang isang iniisip, baka galing sa ospital. Puwede rin na galing sa hearing kasi meron tayong mga PDL na kahit na may mga virtual hearing, meron pa ring mga judge na gusto actual na nakikita kung ano ang expression ng akusado. Saan ba nakuha? Doon ba? Inaalam pa kung saan talaga nanggaling,” he said.

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