By Shermain Bique-Charles
Prison officials are taking steps to avoid another Covid-19 outbreak within the country’s sole penal institution.
Hence, despite being Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) being Covid-free since May 2021, staff and prisoners are moving to get their booster shots.
Acting Superintendent of Prisons, Jermaine Anthony, disclosed that to date they have achieved “98 percent vaccination with regards to the staff; the other two percent would have been individuals who would have been granted exemption on medical grounds”.
That is 48 percent more vaccinations since August 2021, when they last reported.
Anthony said while he does not have an exact figure, “in regards to the inmates our vaccination rate continues to increase”.
Furthermore, as of Thursday, “we are presently engaging…in booster shots for those who would have been fully vaccinated as well as vaccinations for those who would have had their first shot or those who would not have previously been vaccinated,” he revealed.
“We do have inmates who would have been sceptical initially, who are now coming forward and are asking to be vaccinated,” the acting prison boss added.
The first positive case in the prison was detected early in March 2021 and that triggered a massive testing exercise, which included approximately 95 percent of the prison population.
When 32 inmates and a handful of officers tested positive later that month, there were widespread fears that that would instigate a massive outbreak, particularly as HMP was already reported to be at capacity and work needed to be done on a separate facility meant to be used for isolation/quarantine purposes.
Despite those concerns, however, the inmates were successfully isolated at 1735, until the external facility – a medical quarantine facility at the Crabb’s Training Area – was prepared to receive them.
The inmates were transferred to the new facility on its completion, without any issues.
And with the threat of new variants, Anthony said that the prison’s Covid-19 protocols remain in place with “a little bit more heightened sense of awareness”.
He added that the medical quarantine facility remains in operation and can accommodate up to 60 persons.