Acting Superintendent of Prisons, Jermaine Anthony, is anxious to receive the remaining test results of 92 inmates who were tested for Covid-19 – some more than three weeks ago.
About 95 percent of the prison population were tested for the virus earlier this month, bar a handful of inmates who declined.
The first virus case at 1735 was confirmed on March 4 after an inmate showed symptoms and was sent to the hospital for medical attention. He returned a positive test which triggered institution-wide testing on March 6 and 7.
Anthony said he is concerned about other prisoners being at risk while the administration awaits results from the health authorities. Covid results are typically received within 24 to 48 hours.
“I am concerned about it, the prison administration is concerned about it. I think what needs to happen is a round table discussion … with the Ministry of Health officials and the prison medical team, as well as the prison administration as to the way forward in ensuring that we get our test results back in a timely fashion [and] so as not to have any extended delays and uncertainty as to the status of individuals who would have been tested,” he explained to Observer.
The prison boss says he has expressed this concern with the authorities and he believes that they are listening but says he cannot give an account for the delays.
“Why there is a further delay, I wouldn’t be able to explain. I won’t try and speak for the Ministry of Health; I would leave them to speak for themselves and say why it is that they are experiencing the delay in having our results returned,” he remarked.
Minister of Public Safety Steadroy Benjamin previously said the pending Covid results were now null and void.
He announced last week that he had been advised by health officials to have all prisoners and staff retested as too much time had elapsed. That process has not yet been completed with only a small amount redone so far.
Minister Benjamin declined to comment on the matter when approached by Observer yesterday.
Meanwhile, Anthony acknowledged some successes of the administration’s response to the outbreak, noting that it had been quick to retrofit a Defence Force training base in Crabbs as a quarantine centre for infected inmates.
The Covid-positive prisoners were moved into the facility last week.
Health officials did not respond to requests for comment on the slow pace of returning prison inmates’ test results.