BI opens isolation facility for COVID-positive detained foreigners

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced it opened an for detained foreigners who tested positive for COVID-19.

Below the full statement of BI posted on their Facebook account:

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced the opening of the BI Ligtas Covid Centre inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City, Monday afternoon.

According to BI Warden Facility (BIWF) Chief Remiecar Caguiron, the newly-opened facility will serve as a quarantine ward for COVID-19 positive persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) with mild to moderate symptoms.

The project, which was initiated by the BI, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Corrections is listed as one of the efforts of the BI to prevent the further spread of the pandemic.

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“In the past, we used the custodial quarters of our detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa to isolate COVID-positive PDLs,” said Caguiron.

She added that newly-committed wards who test positive for COVID-19 were often referred to authorized facilities or the provincial hospital. “That was a huge security risk,” she admitted.

Caguiron likewise shared that both personnel and detainees face a big risk of contracting the disease. “We have very limited space in our warden facility, and the number of detained aliens remain high,” said Caguiron. “That’s why this isolation ward lessens the risk, and is a big help in ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the BIWF,” she shared.

Caguiron reports that there are currently 315 aliens detained at the BIWF for various offenses. The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on large companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year.

The BI earlier reported that they moved to decongest the detention center as early as April this year. Caguiron said that more than a hundred aliens have already been deported since April, while at-risk PDLs have been released on bail.

“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we mitigate this risk and stop the spread of this disease though the help of this isolation facility,” said Caguiron.

BI opens isolation facility for COVID-positive detained foreigners

The BI Ligtas Covid Centre, according to the BI, has a surge capacity of 30, and can house as much as 60 if needed.

BI Deputy Commissioner Aldwin Alegre, who chairs the BI’s COVID Task Force, shared that the ICRC have been particularly helpful in setting up the isolation ward, and in providing the materials needed for its operations. “We are very thankful for the help of the ICRC. They provided us trainings in management of PDLs, transportation, and custodial security, as well as gave donations of beds, medicines, disinfectants, PPEs, and handwashing sinks,” said Alegre.

The BI is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the facility, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring and to lessen physical contact.

BIWF personnel as well as medical personnel will be assigned and on duty in the facility 24/7.

It can be recalled that the ICRC previously commended the efforts of jail facilities, including the BIWF, in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Currently, 5 aliens have reportedly tested positive for the virus. “We are thankful that most are recovering already, and we pray that through our efforts, this disease will cease from spreading,” said Alegre.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente lauded the efforts of the BIWF in mitigating the virus. “We need innovative solutions for these emerging issues,” said Morente. “The swift action of our personnel in implementing projects to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is necessary to save lives,” he stated.

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