The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stepped up its efforts in helping congested detention facilities cope with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The ICRC has set up four isolation facilities for inmates who tested positive for Covid-19 or those classified as persons under investigation for mild or moderate symptoms.
The first facility was set up at the new Quezon City Jail complex in Payatas. It can accommodate 48 patients.
Additional facilities would also be set up in the San Fernando District Jail in Pampanga, Pagbilao District Jail in Quezon and the New Bilibid Prison complex in Muntinlupa City.
In a statement, the ICRC said it had been working with Philippine authorities in addressing jail congestion through strengthening health systems and improving access to health facilities for detainees, a partnership that has been amplified because of the pandemic.
“Physical distancing is a privilege simply not available to people behind bars. Overcrowding and limited health services mean infectious diseases like Covid-19 can spread fast and wide inside detention facilities,” said Boris Michel, ICRC head of delegation in the Philippines.
The ICRC donated personal protective equipment, hygiene and disinfectant kits, and basic medical equipment for emergency response teams and isolation center staff; as well as 2,000 personal hygiene items and cleaning materials for 20 police detention facilities in Metro Manila, and tablet devices in select detention facilities to enable detainees to contact their families.