THE Prime Minister on Friday said the now closed Tobago Correctional Facility at Glen Road in Tobago was established to temporarily house covid19 positive prisoners. In making this point in the House of Representatives, Dr Rowley declared, "There are no more current covid19 positive inmates in Tobago." He added, "It was an outbreak of covid19 in the prison that had caused that temporary arrangement to be made."
With no covid19 positive prisoners in Tobago, Rowley said, "The temporary correctional facility in Glen Road is no longer required at this particular time." Should the need for such a facility in Tobago be needed in the future, he said discussions will be held with the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). Rowley explained to Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, "Since the persons to be housed there in that temporary situation were prisoners, they had to be held in a facility which is designated a correctional facility. Prisoners cannot be held anywhere which is not a correctional facility."
He added that the THA, like the Government, took the views of members of the public about the facility into account. When Moonilal claimed it was public pressure from Tobago residents which caused the centre's closure, Rowley replied, "It being a temporary facility, whether there were complaints or not, it would have been such, temporary."
He was surprised when Moonilal asked why money was spent to establish the centre and then close it down. Rowley told MPs that what Government could not do was ignore the possibility of some covid19-positive prisoners infecting the rest of the prison population. He reiterated that under the circumstances, the appropriate actions were taken to deal with this issue.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh disclosed that since March, strategies were being put in place to deal with any possible covid19 outbreak in the prison system. He explained those strategies included the establishment of a parallel system within the prison system to deal with any covid19-positive inmates and reduced visitor interactions with inmates. He also said only prisoners who had co-morbidities or underlying health conditions were treated at public health facilities.
He disclosed that a three-tier system has been established to monitor and deal with any covid19 cases which emerge in the prison population. That system, Deyalsingh explained, begins with the prisons' own medical personnel, continues with the North Central Regional Health Authority and additional oversight is provided by the county medical officer of health. Deyalsingh added there is a separate location at the Maximum Security Prison at Golden Grove, Arouca, where any covid19-positive prisoners are isolated from other inmates.