Prisons step up monitoring after 21 new cases of COVID-19 detected at GP


Prisons step up monitoring after 21 new cases of COVID-19 detected at GP

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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MORE than three months after the Department of Correctional Service (DCS) was faced with 61 cases of COVID-19 in the island's prisons, another outbreak has been reported at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston.

Commissioner of Corrections Gary Rowe yesterday advised minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security Matthew Samuda that 21 cases of COVID-19 has been confirmed at the maximum security prison.

The facility, commonly referred to as the General Penitentiary (GP), identified the 21 cases following a comprehensive round of testing held last weekend.

Director of Medical Services in DCS Dr Donna-Michelle Royer-Powe provided details surrounding the confirmation of the COVID-19 cases.

“The medical team carried out a testing programme involving 65 persons from the correctional centre on Saturday, January 23rd. These tests were carried out after contact could not be established between a positive inmate and active cases in the facility last week,” said Royer-Powe.

“A total of 57 inmates and eight members of staff were swabbed utilising a one in three sampling method to determine the spread of the virus within the facility. Results have been received for 61 of the tests done, of which 21 are positive. Inmates confirmed to be positive have been placed in isolation, and staff members required to self-isolate with immediate effect,” added Royer-Powe as she underscored that the majority of confirmed cases were asymptomatic.

Responding to the news, Samuda urged the DCS to continue to be vigilant and proactive in enforcing the COVID-19 protocols, which include contact tracing and line listing.

He argued that adherence to the protocols have so far been effective in limiting the spread of the virus in the nation's correctional facilities.

“The Government of Jamaica will continue to employ active surveillance in our facilities until we return to zero new cases, even as the nation wrestles with community spread and new strains of the virus,” said Samuda.

He commended the DCS and health ministry teams which, he said, have been working around the clock to limit spread of the virus within correctional facilities and across the wider society.

The DCS announces its current COVID-19 cases on a weekly basis through a digital dashboard posted on its corporate website.

Other measures employed in the management of the pandemic include a weekly convening of the tracking and strategic management COVID-19 task force comprised of health ministry personnel along with DCS custodial and administrative personnel, and a robust department-wide educational programme reinforcing protocols and best practices in print and digital media.

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