Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Col (Retired) Gary Rowe, this morning advised Minister Without Portfolio in the National Security Ministry, Senator Matthew Samuda that twenty- one (21) cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston.
The facility, commonly referred to as the General Penitentiary (GP) identified the 21 cases following a comprehensive round of testing held on the weekend.
Director Medical Services in the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Dr. Donna-Michelle Royer-Powe provided details surrounding the confirmation of the COVID-19 cases saying, “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.”
According to Dr. Royer-Powe, “A total of 57 inmates and eight (8) members of staff were swabbed utilizing a one (1) in three (3) 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.”
The Department also advised that the majority of the confirmed cases are presently asymptomatic.
Responding to the news, Minister 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 noted 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.”
Minister Samuda also commended the DCS and Health Ministry teams which have been working around the clock to limit the spread of the virus within correctional facilities and across the wider society.
The DCS continues to announce its current cases on a weekly basis via 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 taskforce comprised of 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.