A THIRD prison officer has tested positive for covid19.
Head of the medical department of the prison service Deputy Commissioner Lopes told Newsday yesterday the woman was confirmed as covid19-positive on Wednesday night, and was quarantined. She is expected to be collected by a medical team who will take her to the Caura Hospital, where she will be treated.
Lopes said primary, secondary and tertiary contacts of prisoners and prison officers who tested positive for covid19 have been quarantined as a precaution. Newsday was told about 77 prison officers are now in quarantine.
“The directive from the commissioner is he doesn’t want to risk any officer coming in and contaminating any other officer. So any person showing the slightest symptom, be it a cough, a cold, a sneeze, they are sent to a health centre for screening. That would protect our environment and it will also protect the officers’ best interest. Because he would be getting the best assessment and guidance and he will get the coverage from the health centre,” Lopez said.
“We are covering all our bases. We are considering tertiary contacts as potential cases until their status has been established in an effort to minimise risk to the population."
Newsday was told that the prisoner who recently tested positive is also at the Caura hospital under guard.
Officials said the prisoner is being guarded by a prison officer in an adjoining room and is monitored through CCTV cameras. Lopez said the facility is designed to cater for security measures.
Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan told Newsday the prison service could not afford to be laid-back about managing the spread of covid19 in the prisons.
“We are in a vulnerable and volatile environment. It is inmates we deal with, and they are housed and accommodated into cells which are close together."
He said he couldn't afford to drop the ball.
"We as a team cannot afford it. Because if this pandemic hits our prisons the consequences would be dire. It could spread to hundreds in a day.”
He said the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus in prisons had also reduced the spread of other viruses.
“Now we are sanitising all our divisions twice a day. Much more emphasis is placed on sanitisation, inmates’ baths and cleaning of hands. Our officers are even doing medicine parades and identifying prisoners who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and sending them for examination and monitoring them. So much more is being done.”