Mindanao’s COVID-19 positives surge to 249 as Zambo jail cases rise to 50

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 03 May) – Mindanao’s COVID-19 cases surged to 249  as of  Saturday night, May 2,  Davao region posting the highest at 141 with 124 in  Davao City, followed by Zamboanga Peninsula region with 64 cases, 50 of these in the Zamboanga City jail.

Out of 64 cases in Region 9 or Zamboanga Peninsula, 59 are in Zamboanga City, the five others are in Zamboanga del Sur.

Zamboanga City’s main streets are empty on Sunday, 03 May 2020. The city government has set Sunday as ‘rest day’ under the quarantine pass policy. Bong Serondo / City Government of Zamboanga FB page

The  Center for Health Development of the Department of Health in Region 9 or the Zamboanga Peninsula on Saturday morning reported 19 new cases of COVID-– 18 inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs)  and one jail personnel at the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC) – bringing to 35 the regional total.

Late Saturday night, the City Government of Zamboanga announced on its Facebook page that 29 more cases from the jail tested positive, bringing the city’s total to 59.

Of the 59 cases, 50 trace their exposure to the jail: 45 inmates and three personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology or a total of 48, and much earlier,  two other inmates, one of whom – 47-year old ZP09 — died on April 20 while the other – 57-year old ZP10 — is still confined at the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) due to pneumonia.

ZP09 died on April 20 at the hospital due to “respiratory failure with underlying pulmonary tuberculosis infection.” He was earlier tagged as person under investigation but  lab results showed he tested positive for COVID-19.

Posted by the City Government of Zamboanga on its FB page late Saturday night, 02 May 2020

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco posted on her FB page that the city government in collaboration with BJMP is “exerting best efforts to include providing resources and logistics to address the outbreak inside the city jail” and “actions have also been taken to facilitate the transfer of the women dormitory to avoid contamination of older PDLs and those with underlying medical conditions.”

The Zamboanga City Reformatory Center has 3,693 inmates, 3,319 of them male and 374 female.


MindaNews sent Mayor Climaco a set of questions on the situation in the jail.  Her office forwarded answers from Jail Warden Nathaniel Aljas.

Aljas said the inmates who tested positive have been isolated in an enclosed tent at the basketball court of ZCRC while one was released from isolation on the first week of April. Two BJMP personnel are isolated inside jail while one is due for transfer to ZCMC.

Aljas also said that ZC10 “has been at the infirmary since commitment last January 2020 due to medical history.”

ZC09 and ZC10 “were together at the infirmary but beds were far apart. It took several days before it was discovered that one had TB so he was transferred to isolation cell for TB patients,” Aljas told the mayor.

“The 44 PDL positives came from isolation TB cell and from regular cell where ZC09 came from,” he said.

Regional statistics

Davao City recorded the highest number of cases in Mindanao at 124 or 87.9% of the Davao region’s total or 56.6% of the Mindanao count.

Across Mindanao’s six regions, Davao region accounts for 141 out of 249 cases or 56.6%, followed by Zamboanga Peninsula with 64 cases (25.7%), Region 12 or Soccsksargen with 16 (6.4%), Northern Mindanao with 14 (5.6%), the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 11 (4.4%) and Caraga which has only three cases (1.2%).


Of 249 cases in Mindanao, 32 have passed away: 20 in Davao region (19 in Davao City and one in Tagum City); five in Northern Mindanao, four in the BARMM, two in Zamboanga region and one in Region 12.

Mindanao has 27 provinces and 33 cities. Among the cities, Davao City leads in the number of cases at 124, followed by Zamboanga City with 59.

Nationwide, as of 4 p.m. on May 2, the total number of COVID-19 cases was 8,928, including 603 deaths.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)