Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda, says come next week, members of the public will be advised of further plans by the ministry to control the spread of the coronavirus in correctional facilities.
“We are currently looking to deal with the most vulnerable and those living with comorbidities within the correctional facilities and we will outline an approach in short order,” Samuda said.
The statement follows a visit to two of the largest facilities within the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) – the Horizon Remand Centre and the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre. During the visit, Samuda and Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, observed the implementation of protocols that were established by the health ministry to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to the senator, since March and despite infrastructural constraints, the DCS has managed to implement protocols stipulated by the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health Wellness, that serve to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“What we’ve implemented follows a checklist established by these organisations, which we would have successfully consolidated,” the senator said, as he commended the DCS for its response to COVID-19 so far.
“Despite infrastructural challenges,” he continued, “we’ve managed to put in place more wash areas, sanitisation areas and designated isolation points to prevent further community spread of the virus”.
Meanwhile, Dr Donna-Michelle Roye-Powe, Director of Medical Services at the DCS, said inmates have taken the threat of the virus seriously, by barring other inmates who reside on other blocks from entering shared spaces.
“Some inmates have put up signs on blocks in quarantine and question other inmates who want to enter their space about their whereabouts,” Dr Roye-Powe noted.
She pointed out that the DCS conducts random testing for COVID-19, which is why her office was able to detect positive cases of the virus, as the inmates who tested positive for the coronavirus were all asymptomatic and did not present symptoms such as high fever, dry coughs or sore throat.
“It’s not that people have gone sick why we were able to detect the virus, it’s because of vigilance. This is why we randomly test inmates as temperature checks are unable to detect the virus among persons who are asymptomatic and this is the case for those who were tested positive for the virus,” Dr Royer-Powe emphasised.
At the end of the visit, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Health Fund, handed over personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to the DCS to boost its capacity in preventing the spread of the virus.