Visitation to Her Majesty’s Prison halted
All visits to inmates at Her Majesty’s Prisons have been halted as part of that institution’s response to the increase in number of Covid-19 infections in the country.
“Please be advised that in keeping with the recent upsurge in Covid-19 infections, the following steps have been taken to safeguard the prison environment,” a media release from the prison, which has compounds at Kingstown and Belle Isle, begins.
The advisory, issued January 4, emphasizes that “ALL visits to inmates have been cancelled until further notice.”
What will be permitted is the dropping off of clothes, money and other “authorized articles” for inmates.
The prison will also enforce a rule that no more than three persons at a time would be allowed to sit in the waiting area.
“Civilian traffic on the prison compound is limited and only persons conducting business with the prisons would be allowed on the compound,” the prisons advised.
Whoever visits the prisons will have to sanitize at the entrance, where a sanitizing facility has been set up.
Everyone who enters the compounds must wear a face mask, including police officers.
Prison officers are required to wear face masks during duty, and “are encouraged to wear them off duty also”.
Inmates going to court will be required to wear masks, as well as those who go out in work parties with the police.
“No work parties would go outside the prison compound except those that work for the police,” the release outlines.
Elsewhere in the region, in Barbados, the reality of how quickly Covid-19 could spread in the confined spaces of the prison is being revealed.
As at January 4, after widespread testing by the Barbados health authorities, 170 personnel and inmates at Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) Dodds, St Philip, have tested positive for COVID-19. Of these, 49 are staff members and 121 inmates.
The Barbados Government Information Service says that these statistics come “on the heels of news that a bus crawl held on Boxing Day was the super spreader event, which led to a spike in local transmission among the staff and prison population.”
This bus crawl was apparently attended primarily by prison officers and some members of the Barbados Defence Force. All personnel at the prison were tested, except those staff on leave.
Currently, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has 33 confirmed active Covid-19 cases.
On December 28, two individuals with no recent travel history were discovered to have the virus, and since then contact tracing has picked up others infected. The number in this cluster climbed to seven.
Additionally, since then five other Covid-19 infected persons, adult nationals, also with no recent travel history, emerged.
Contact tracing, linking and testing related to these cases have commenced.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Simone Keizer-Beache has advised the public that they must assume that they are now at increased risk of Covid-19 infection and therefore should wear masks once they leave their homes.