Philippine military academy hit by Covid-19 infections despite hard lockdown

BAGUIO CITY (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The coronavirus disease has cut through the defences of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) despite enforcing a hard lockdown since February to protect its cadets.

Three infections were first recorded inside the military campus of Fort del Pilar after close to 400 tests were conducted there from Dec 16 to Dec 18, 2020.

By Saturday (Jan 2), the number of people who tested positive for the virus rose to 37.

The results did not indicate whether the new patients were cadets, soldiers, teachers or family members of enlisted PMA personnel who were staying inside the forested campus during the holidays.

Those who tested positive were listed only as Fort del Pilar dwellers, the city health services office said.

Some of the patients are between 19 and 22 years old. The PMA has yet to officially comment on the lab results. It has scheduled a news conference this week.

For the most part of last year, the academy had suspended activities and duties that required cadets to leave campus. The cadets’ training and classroom routines continued while maintaining social distancing protocols and wearing face masks.

Some classroom activities were conducted online by instructors staying at home.

Because of rules against mass gatherings, annual events like the PMA graduation in May were staged without the cadets’ parents and relatives for the first time in recent memory.

Some traditions pushed through, however, such as the year-end skit show “Immaculate Night”, formerly called the “100 Nites Show,” which was held before the May graduation.

No cadets performed the ceremonial chores during the Rizal Day programme last week, in which the PMA superintendent, Major General Ferdinand Cartojano, was the guest speaker.

The latest infections at the PMA raised the total number of Covid-19 cases in Baguio City, in Benguet province on the main Luzon island, to 3,941, with 301 of them still active.

Covid-19-related fatalities in the city have climbed to 69, many of them involving the elderly and vulnerable due to pre-existing health conditions.

The city government has expanded its critical care centres to respond to possible surges from the holiday weeks, as well as tourism and business activities to rehabilitate the economy.

The Philippines on Monday (Jan 4) reported 959 new confirmed Covid-19 cases to raise the total to 478,761, the second worst-hit country in South-east Asia after Indonesia.

The death toll in the Philippines rose to 9,263 after six more patients died, Xinhua news agency reported.

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