Acting prison boss says claims of a possible Covid-19 outbreak at the institution are “malicious and false”

The colonial-era institution has long drawn criticism due to overcrowding and the use of slop buckets among other complaints (File photo)
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By Theresa Goodwin

[email protected]

The Acting Superintendent at Her Majesty’s Prison has refuted claims of a possible Covid-19 outbreak at the penal institution following the circulation of a viral video that surfaced over the weekend.

“The prison administration does not have 21 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as alleged by the individual, nor is the prison administration covering up any information as it relates to that,” Jermaine Anthony Jr told our newsroom yesterday.

He also labeled the claims as “false and malicious.”

The video was posted by prison activist, Jessica Thompson, after news surfaced that an inmate at the prison had tested positive for the dreaded virus.

Anthony Jr confirmed that an inmate, who sought care at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MJSMC), was tested with a rapid kit as part of the new routine for all hospital patients and the results were indeed positive.

The inmate, he said, was placed in quarantine at the hospital where he will be tested for a second time using the PCR method.

As it relates to the claim of more isolated cases at the prison, Anthony Jr said it is too early to make that determination, outlining that a widescale testing programme is currently ongoing.

“The prison administration has embarked on a 100 percent testing programme for all inmates and prison officers, and to date, we have completed almost 40 percent, and we started this on Saturday. We are also going to be embarking on our vaccination programme as well for those who are interested,” the acting superintendent said.

The prison currently has a population of 152 inmates, and up to Sunday, over 100 were tested for the virus.

Over the weekend, an emotional Thompson shared that she was peeved upon hearing the news of the infection noting that since the start of the pandemic she has issued unsuccessful pleas for the authorities to implement specific measures to limit possible exposure to the virus.

She also claimed that new inmates, though placed in quarantine for a period of time, are eventually mixed with the rest of the prison population without being tested for the virus.

She also argued that the matter would not have been brought to light if the inmate in question did not require medical attention.

“It hurts me. For two years now I have been fighting. The authorities claimed that they would do something to reduce the number of inmates in the prison and up to now nothing has happened.

“If we have more deaths or infection within the prison. What would we do with those patients, the prison is not big enough to accommodate them, Fiennes, the Navy Base and other places do not have the capacity to hold any more people,” Thompson argued.

The Acting Prison Boss acknowledged that, outside of a quarantine facility for prisoners on remand, the institution does not have any facility to accommodate inmates who test positive for the virus.

He said however, authorities are now in the process of finalising a contingency plan to facilitate the transfer and quarantine of inmates if the need arises.

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