By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter

TWO MORE inmates from the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City died of the coronavirus disease 2019, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said on Wednesday, as the national infection tally topped 8,000.

In a statement, the prison bureau said a 72-year-old woman — the first confirmed case at the prison — died on April 27. She had been hospitalized since April 13 after experiencing severe pneumonia symptoms, it said.

The other COVID-19-positive inmate died of septic lupus on April 21. She was tested on April 14 but the result came out only on April 27, BuCor said.

The prisoner was confined at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City since April 13 but had been in and out of the hospital since February due to systemic lupus, kidney disease and other ailments, the bureau said.

This brings the death toll of inmates from COVID-19 to three, after the death of the first and only confirmed case at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. BuCor said confirmed cases in its facilities were at 50.

“All are found at the New Bilibid Prison and Correctional Institute for Women, while the rest of the prison and penal farms across the country are still considered COVID-19-free,” it said.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 254 new infections yesterday, bringing the total to 8,212.

Twenty-eight more patients died, raising the death toll to 558, it said in a bulletin. Forty-eight more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 1,023.

DoH on Tuesday said it was planning to conduct mass testing for COVID-19 infections in the country’s overcrowded jails to avert a contagion.

With 215,000 prisoners nationwide, Philippine jails and prisons are overfilled more than five times their official capacity, making it the most overcrowded prison system in the world, according to the World Prison Brief, a database kept by the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research at the University of London.

Nine inmates and nine staff at the Quezon City Jail near the capital, and more than 210 at the Cebu City Jail have been infected, adding to worries about contagion risks in the country’s jails.

Twenty-two political prisoners who claim to be at risk of dying if they get infected have asked the Supreme Court to allow their release through bail on humanitarian grounds.

The Justice department earlier approved a Board of Pardons and Parole order easing the requirements for pardon and executive clemency.

The Office of the Court Administrator has also ordered trial judges to enforce a six-year-old rule allowing the release of prisoners who have served the minimum penalty for their sentences.