The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is reporting an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among the inmate/ward population and staff members in its correctional institutions in recent weeks.
Currently, 58 positive inmates/wards have tested positive for the virus while seven have been hospitalized. Additionally, 38 staff members have tested positive and are now in isolation.
The Medical Services Unit continues to work assiduously and has been unrelenting in the fight against the pandemic. Data from the Unit has indicated that since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, 206 inmates/wards and 228 staff members have recovered from the virus. The death count remains at five: two inmates and three officers from the first wave of the virus. Jamaica remains one of the countries with the least amount of cases in its correctional system within the jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, the DCS will be implementing additional COVID-19 measures to reduce and prevent the spread of the virus. The measures follow published guidelines from the World Health Organization, the Centres for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Beginning Saturday, September 18, 2021, the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in the first instance will observe no movement initially for seven days and cloth masks will be prohibited. Surgical masks will be distributed to inmates and Officers. The rotation of Officers will also be suspended. They will retain their assigned posts for the period to prevent the spread of the virus.
The DCS will continue to enforce measures previously implemented including temperature checks for all persons entering the institutions, handwashing and sanitization stations along with the provision of thermometers and sanitizing agents at all institutions. The DCS in collaboration with the Public Health Department continues swabbing exercises within the institutions.
Meanwhile, the National Health Fund is providing Personal Protective Equipment for the correctional institutions.
To date, approximately 300 inmates from the adult correctional institutions and more than 300 staff members have been inoculated. The Medical Services Unit continues to collaborate with the Public Health Department to conduct vaccination drives within the facilities.
The leadership of the Department of Correctional Services continues to encourage inmates and staff members to vaccinate against the COVID-19 virus.