The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is reporting 14 new positive cases of COVID-19 at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre within the last 24 hours. Of the new cases confirmed two are staff members and 12 are inmates.
Discussions with Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Matthew Samuda revealed that, “This development in the institution has occurred despite our rollout of protocols established by international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other benchmark corrective organizations versed in the management of outbreaks within correctional institution. These Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols have been in effect across the department for well over six months.” The Minister indicated that the Department would be revisiting its tracking measures given the situation and release results of the COVID-19 tests immediately rather than by its twice weekly (Tuesdays and Thursdays) modality on the dashboard on its website.
The DCS confirmed that, per public health guideline, all the positive test cases are placed in isolation and contact tracing and line listing activities are conducted to curtail the spread in the institution. Minister Samuda also advised that “The Department has been consultative in its approach to controlling the cases in the institutions, collaborating with the MOHW and Public Health Depts. to conduct testing programmes in centres once any positive cases are detected. We recently met with the Public Defender as well to ventilate existing measures at the facilities and seek counsel on what other measures she considered would aid us in our management of the pandemic.”
The positive cases recorded in the Correctional Centres thus far have been largely asymptomatic, however the Department is mindful that changes in the nature of these cases remains a real possibility. Director of Medical Services in the Department – Dr. Donna-Michelle Royer-Powe stated that “With Jamaica at the stage of community spread and many persons being asymptomatic, our responsibility as medical professionals within the Correctional Service has become much more preemptive in nature, it simply means that we take nothing for granted.” The Doctor indicated that, “ in September alone, testing for COVID 19 saw almost 300 persons inclusive of Correctional staff and inmates being swabbed the last one being at the Tower Street Adult where we swabbed over 100 persons,” she concluded.
The DCS remains committed to the safety, health and wellness of both our staff and inmates under our care during this pandemic.