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The Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), with support from the British High Commission in Port of Spain, recently donated much-needed basic sanitation supplies to Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP), which would assist in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Superintendent of Prisons, Lt Col Eugene Phillip accepted the items, which included infrared thermometers, disinfectants, liquid soap, bleach, and hand sanitizers, a release said.

Speaking during the presentation, which took place on the V C Bird Airport tarmac, Lt Col Phillip expressed his appreciation for the supplies, which he said would “go a long way to keep the prison in Antigua Covid-free”.

The Executive Director (Ag), Caricom IMPACS, Lt Col Michael Jones, was also on hand to witness the delivery. “Getting supplies is a global challenge. Caricom IMPACS through its partnerships and coordinating structure is assisting Member States to boost efforts to prevent and control the virus, particular in prisons, where an outbreak of the pandemic could have devastating consequences,” he said.

The supplies provided are in accordance with guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the prevention and control of the pandemic in prisons (WHO 2020). Caricom IMPACS’ and the United Kingdom’s efforts to prevent Covid-19 infections in prisons will continue within the next weeks with donations of similar basic sanitation supplies to eight other Caricom Member States.

Caricom IMPACS has already successfully donated supplies to the prisons in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

The Regional Security System (RSS) is a key partner in this collaborative initiative by providing airlift and logistical support for the distribution of supplies to some Caricom Member States.

The donation of these supplies will encourage and assist with the accelerated adoption of WHO guidelines for prisons and other places of detention.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the main penal institution or any other designated prison facility on Antigua and Barbuda. However, with an outbreak of Covid-19, the lives of approximately 290 prisoners, 89 prison staff, and the general public will be at risk, potentially placing tremendous strain on the public health system, the release said.

In addition to the items provided to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 in prisons, on May 7, 2020, Caricom IMPACS collaborated with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to provide a virtual training session to more than 500 frontline officers on measures to protect themselves in the line of duty.

This effort strengthened the capacity of both law enforcement officials and prison staff members to better manage their operations in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also complements the ongoing efforts by Caricom IMPACS, the British High Commission and the RSS to provide basic sanitation support to Caricom Member States.

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