PMA confirms clustering of Covid-19 cases after mass testing

BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Monday confirmed the clustering of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases among assigned soldiers and cadets in the country’s premier military institution.

Major Cherryl Tindog, chief of the PMA Public Affairs Office, announced this in an official statement released to the media on Monday afternoon. “It is with deep concern that the Academy confirms the positive Covid-19 cases among the cadets and its military and civilian personnel,” she said.

The cases were known following the conduct of mass testing which was initiated to assure the safety of the cadets.

“After the Command’s initiative for mass RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) testing with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard, a number of cadets, civilian human resource (manongs) and organic military personnel were identified to have contracted the virus. These cases were properly reported and coordinated with the health officials of the City of Baguio,” Tindog said.

The academy ordered a lockdown of its facilities, prohibiting the public from entering the premises and containing cadet activities in a bubble. All major activities like the annual alumni homecoming, the graduation of cadets, reception of plebes, as well as recognition ceremonies were confined to “online events” to prevent contact with the public.

Tindog also said that since March 2020, the academy has been doing rapid test on cadets and personnel but opted to do a PCR test just to assure, considering that it had been months since the pandemic started.

She said the academy administration is implementing a strict policy, preventing the cadets’ contact to avoid the possibility of getting the infection, but were not spared.

“Though the Cadet Corps of the AFP has been isolated as one bubble from the outside world by canceling contact activities and employing online mode of instructions, still there is no foolproof system,” she said.

One way or another, a leak to the bubble can occur from day-to-day activities of the whole community, thus the need for mass testing, she added.

Tindog assured the public as well as the parents of the cadets that the academy is taking care of those infected.

For several days during the holiday season, the city government has been releasing a daily record of cases with confirmed patients’ addresses being “Fort Del Pilar”, the location of PMA but no details have been obtained.

On Monday morning, Mayor Benjamin Magalong urged the media to get authorized statements from the PMA.

Tindog said the patients are being treated, the contacts were traced and isolated, and the further spread is contained, in coordination with concerned government agencies.

She said the patients are asymptomatic and “poses no greater danger to cadet’s health”.

“There are a number of them who have also recovered,” Tindog added.

Aside from the tests, the Academy has conducted immediate isolation of positive cases, lockdown, contact tracing, quarantine of general contacts, and disinfection of affected areas, based on safety and health protocol for Covid-19 of PMA and the DOH.

“The mass testing is part of the PMA’s effort to eradicate Covid-19 within the Cadet Corps and the whole of the Academy, and we shall continue to do so,” Tindog said. (PNA)