A total of 26 people at the Medium C Women’s Center in East London tested positive for Covid-19. More results are expected from persons tested.
Correctional Services spokesman Chrispin Phiri said 23 officers and three offenders have tested positive for the virus so far.
This comes after a mass testing at the center after the first positive case was reported on April 6, 2020. “The officer who tested positive attended a funeral where she was in contact with international visitors. Thirty staff members who contacted her were quarantined when the result was not yet known. A second positive case was reported on April 8, 2020, when an officer obtained her results from a private laboratory, ”Phiri explained.
On 8 and 9 April 2020, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NIOS) tested a total of 268 offenders and 266 staff at the prison. Another 193 offenders were tested on Saturday and the remaining 46 offenders will be tested on Monday.
“We immediately took steps to prevent the virus from spreading further. We have identified single cells within Medium C that will be used as quarantine and isolation areas. The officers working in these areas received the necessary protective equipment, ”Phiri added.
“We know that some of the perpetrators have strongly protested against the isolation measures, including that bans are visited in all centers, but the guideline has been set up to protect offenders and officers against Covid-19,” he said. “Had it not been for the isolation measures in place, the virus would probably have spread further in the province.”
On April 1, 2020, a total of 20 559 offenders were behind bars in the Eastern Cape. Nationwide, the department has 154,437 prisoners. “As the Department of Correctional Services, we remain committed to ensuring that all offenders have access to good health care. We will also continue to ensure that offenders are protected against Covid-19, but we also require their cooperation so that together we can be safe from the virus. ”