Prison officials pleased with internal Covid-19 management efforts

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1735 remains free of infections since May

By Orville Williams

[email protected]

After staving off a major outbreak earlier this year, officials attached to Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) are pleased with their enforcement of the Covid-19 protocols as those efforts have helped to keep the facility free of Covid infections since May.

The first positive case in the prison was detected early in March and that triggered a massive testing exercise, which included approximately 95 percent of the prison population.

When 32 inmates and less than a handful of officers tested positive later the same month, there were widespread fears that that would have instigated a massive outbreak, particularly as the prison 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.

Covid-19 vaccines were also offered to the prison population throughout the month of March, with close to 50 percent of the officers and an unconfirmed number of inmates receiving their jabs.

Those efforts, according to Acting Prison Superintendent, Jermaine Anthony, have been pivotal in maintaining a safe prison population. He said further, that the success has given them even more impetus to continue enforcing the protocols, without exception.

“Presently, we have no active cases in the prison [and] we’ve been Covid-free since about the last week of May.

“Our testing and quarantine protocol for all sentenced inmates still continues and all our [other] protocols are still intact – mask-wearing, social distancing as best as we can considering the environment that we’re in, as well as handwashing and sanitizing,” he told Observer.

He also maintained that again, due to the protocols, the risk of new infections from the introduction of new inmates has not increased.

“We don’t have any data to suggest that [the] risk would have increased, owing to any increase in remands,” he added.

As far as the inmates who would have tested positive and been subsequently quarantined, Anthony said each of them has fully recovered and quite a significant number of them have been vaccinated.

The prison administration has also been facilitating vaccination drives for the officers, and while Anthony could not immediately give a figure, he noted that a significant portion of that group has indeed been inoculated.

Preparations are also underway to execute another vaccination drive for the inmates of HMP.

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