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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in BuCor down to 14, but over 100 inmates, personnel test positive on antigen kits
This photo taken May 25, 2020 shows elderly inmates of the New Bilibid Prison who will undergo rapid test for COVID-19.
Bureau of Corrections/Facebook page released

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in BuCor down to 14, but over 100 inmates, personnel test positive on antigen kits

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - April 15, 2021 - 10:48am

MANILA, Philippines — Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Bureau of Corrections are down to 14, but the agency is seeking donation of more antigen test kits as more than a hundred inmates and personnel test positive on these test kits and remain in isolation.

Data sent by BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag showed that since the pandemic last year until April 13, BuCor tallied 776 coronavirus cases among personnel and Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs). Of these, 730 have recovered while 32 died.

Chaclag explained that the bureau lists RT-PCR positive patients as COVID positive patients, but the agency has also started using rapid antigen test kits.

The BuCor spokesperson said more than a hundred trainees and over a hundred PDLs tested positive on rapid antigen test kits, but they have been isolated for more than a week and were not included in the agency’s COVID-19 positive tally.

“If they show symptoms, mandatory rapid antigen and RT-PCR test will be done,” he said in Filipino.

Antigen tests diagnose active coronavirus infections and have quicker turnaround times. The United States Food and Drug Administration said that while positive results of antigen tests are "highly accurate," negative results may need to be confirmed by an RT-PCR test. 

RELATED: Rapid antibody test, antigen test, RT-PCR test: How are they different?

The Department of Health said it is eyeing to include positive antigen test results in its daily case bulletin, but as of April 14, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said these have yet to be reflected on the tally.

Separate data from Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar showed 175 inmates, 32 personnel and 161 trainees have tested positive on rapid antigen kits as of April 14, Wednesday.

Chaclag said: “All are asymptomatic and have been isolated for more than a week. They are tested weekly using rapid antigen, and if [result is negative], they go back to routine job or old places.”

Vaccination

Chaclag added that as of Wednesday, one personnel and one inmate are currently hospitalized. The other 12 cases, who are all BuCor personnel, are on self-quarantine since last week.

“Our BuCor Health Service is confident they are handling well our COVID-19 situation. But our rapid antigen [test kits] are few, so we are again looking for partners who want to donate while we are on d process of procurement of additional rapid antigen test kits,” he added.

To date, inmates are still waiting whether they will be included in a higher category on the government’s priority vaccination list.

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 has been refining and identifying more sectors to be included, but Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said his department will argue for the prioritization of inmates “on the basis of greater COVID risk due to overcrowding.”

The NTF meets this week.

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