COVID-19: Lessons from Philippines jails show how to fight infectious coronavirus disease

Originally published by International Committee of the Red Cross on 23/03/2020


This article compares tuberculosis (TB) with COVID-19 and notes that the lessons learned from fighting TB in Philippines’ jails could help inform the fight against COVID-19 inside prisons. These lessons include infection control protocols (proper entry screening and mass screenings inside detention facilities); and creating isolation units for infected patients to halt the disease’s further spread. Additionally, masks are a must for inmates, visitors and jail staff inside the infirmary facility. The article also notes the importance of pursuing immediate treatment if symptoms are shown, as early detection is key in preventing the spread of disease.Finally, preparation is key to stopping the spread. The Philippines leadership saw that inmates in congested jails were more vulnerable to TB. As such, they set up a facility to better treat inmates with TB and to stop the further spread of TB in jails. There, they are attended by jail health staff and receive medicine, and their chances of recovering are much higher. The article highlights that just because they are in jail, it does not mean that they should receive a lesser standard of health care as compared to those in the community. This same lesson can be applied to COVID-19, in that it is key to create isolation units for those that are infected.

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