The Department of Correctional Services said as a result of a spread of Covid-19 in prisons it was keeping a close eye on developments. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African New Agency (ANA)
The Department of Correctional Services said as a result of a spread of Covid-19 in prisons it was keeping a close eye on developments. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African New Agency (ANA)

Second wave of Covid-19 leaving mark on SA’s inmates, prison officials

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Jan 8, 2021

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Pretoria - The second wave of Covid-19 is also leaving its mark on our country’s inmates and prison officials, with one prison in the Western Cape currently under total lockdown due to a rise in infections.

The Department of Correctional Services said as a result it was keeping a close eye on the rest of the country’s prisons and correctional centres in a bid to curb the spread.

Gauteng prisons at present have the third highest number of infections among prisoners and officials working at these correctional centres.

The latest statistics issued on Wednesday show that the number of infected officials in Gauteng – 1102 – outnumber the total of inmates who tested positive, which stands at 592.

The department said it had placed the Helderstroom Maximum Centre in Caledon, Western Cape Region, on lockdown, as it moves to contain any further spread of infections.

Spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the move followed an increase in the number of inmates testing positive, which had risen to 87 while the number of officials was five.

“Critical at this stage is the activation of containment and treatment measures in order to prevent other officials and inmates from being exposed to the virus. While the process of tracking and tracing the index case(s) is under way, the department has isolated the confirmed positive cases and quarantined the presumptive cases,” he said.

Nxumalo added that although only the maximum centre was affected at this stage, the department was leaving nothing to chance and the medium centre was also being monitored closely.

He gave the assurance that infection prevention control measures were being ramped up at all management areas across the country, with specific directives to push for the continued sanitisation of reception areas, cells, offices, vehicles and ablution facilities.

“The department recognises the importance of keeping and maintaining correctional facilities Covid-19-free, and will continue to invest a larger part of its disaster management planning on intensifying preventive measures.”

He said there would also be daily reporting on all preventive and containment activities as well as incidences within the correctional value chain, especially at coalface and in departmental offices, to the DCS National Operations Centre. “Our Covid-19 strategy will continue to be applied, paying attention to prevention measures, containment and treatment so that we can save lives and better protect every individual within our premises.”

He gave the assurance that the department had sufficient supply of PPE, and said the stock levels were being monitored daily.

Nxumalo said behavioural change and adaptation by officials, inmates and those residing within the various premises of the department, would go a long way in the prevention of new infections. The latest figures on the infections of both officials and inmates show that the Eastern Cape has the most inmates infected – 1 215 in total, while 1 127 officials in that region have tested positive. The Western Cape has the highest number of infected officials, at 1 178, while it has 798 infected inmates. Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West, have the lowest number of infections, with 585 officials infected and 180 inmates.

Pretoria News

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