Immigration to house foreign detainees suspected of COVID-19 in Muntinlupa facility
This file photo shows the Bureau of Immigration office in Intramuros, Manila.
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Immigration to house foreign detainees suspected of COVID-19 in Muntinlupa facility
( - September 21, 2020 - 2:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has opened its COVID-19 quarantine center for detained foreign nationals suspected of contracting the coronavirus.

BI Ligtas Covid Centre was opened inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City on Monday afternoon, the bureau said in a statement.

BI Warden Facility (BIWF) chief Remiecar Caguiron said this will serve as a quarantine ward for COVID-19 positive detainees with mild to moderate symptoms. It can house up to 60 people.

BI also said it intends to install CCTV cameras in the facility, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring of patients and to lessen physical contact.

Caguiron said that in the past, positive COVID-19 cases were isolated in the custodial quarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, while newly confirmed cases were referred to authorized facilities or provincial hospital.

“That was a huge security risk,” she said.

 She added that there is also limited space in bureau’s warden facility while the number of detained foreign nationals remain high, increasing the risk of personnel and detainees contracting the coronavirus.

While the bureau started decongesting its detention center in April—more than a hundred aliens deported and at-risk detainees released on bail—hundreds remain at the facility.

There are currently 315 foreign nationals held in the BIWF for various immigration offenses. “The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on large companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year,” the statement read.

Five foreign nationals have reportedly acquired the virus. BI Deputy Commissioner Aldwin Alegre said “most are recovering already.”

The project was created in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Department of Justice and Bureau of Corrections.

Alegre thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross for providing materials for the operations of the BI Ligtas Covid Center. He said Red Cross gave trainings in the management of patients, transportation, and custodial security, as well as donated beds, medicines, disinfectants, PPEs and sinks. — Kristine Joy Patag

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