Police station in Davao City on lockdown after 30 inmates test positive for COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 Oct) – The Toril Police Station here has been placed under lockdown since Saturday after 30 detainees tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and subjected to a mandatory quarantine 22 of its personnel with direct contact, including the station commander, Maj. Michael S. Uyanguren.

Col. Kirby Kraft, Davao City Police Office chief. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In a phone interview, Col. Kirby Kraft, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director, said that the police station was informed of the “positive” reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results of the detainees last October 3 or two days after undergoing the virus test.

All inmates are required to undergo RT-PCR tests as a requirement for their transfer to the custody of Davao City Jail, which is managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Davao, he said.

Kraft said the police station would remain under lockdown, unless all personnel are cleared of the infection through swab tests.

“All persons under police custody (PUPC) of the 12 stations in Davao City will be required to undergo a swab test before they will be turned over to BJMP. The swab test was conducted last October 1. On October 3, the police station was informed that there were PUPCs who tested positive,” he added.

He said the lockdown would not affect the operation of the police station since 90 percent of its personnel are deployed on the field and have no direct exposure to the detainees who are positive of COVID-19.

“They have no direct contact because they are outside the police station, so it will not affect the police visibility,” Kraft assured.

In a separate phone interview, Uyanguren suspected that a detainee, who had contracted the infection before being arrested by authorities, might have brought the infection to the station.

“Most probably, the virus came from a detainee who got it from outside. When he was arrested, the RDT (rapid diagnostic test) did not detect the virus, and the symptoms just developed while in detention,” he said.

All detainees of the station were subjected to an antibody-based RDT test before being detained, according to Uyanguren.

“RDT was not reliable in detecting the virus,” he said.

Uyanguren said that 14 police officers and 8 members of police auxiliary with direct exposure are isolated inside the police station while the COVID-19-positive detainees have remained inside their detention cell.

The detainees, he added, are asymptomatic.

Uyanguren said that the 15 other detainees, who were reported to have been in direct contact with the 30 COVID-19-positive detainees, have been transferred to a separate building.

“Before they were separated, they shared the same detention cell. They were separated only after the results of the swab test came out,” he said.

He said they are scheduled to undergo RT-PCR tests within the week.

As part of the lockdown measure, Uyanguren said visitors are not allowed inside the station while the minimum health protocols, such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields, are strictly observed among personnel on quarantine.

He said police officers and other personnel with no direct contact are holding office in a separate building of the station. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)