Even with the latest figures showing that over 30 per cent of inmates at HMP Dodds have tested positive for COVID-19, a doctor stationed at the prison believes the crisis situation can be brought under control within the next two weeks.
Dr Carl Ward, who is acting as public health liaison at the St Philip penal institution, is of the view that the worst of the crisis at the prison has passed.
During a press conference held at the prison’s headquarters this afternoon, Dr Ward revealed that of the 790 inmates at HMP Dodds, 240 of them – all males – along with 72 staff had so far tested positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, he said they were eight inmates and two officers with “pending results”, which meant their initial tests suggested they might be COVID-19 positive, with a confirmatory test needed to validate the results.
However, he disclosed that 73 persons had been discharged from quarantine yesterday with a further 34 expected to be discharged tomorrow.
And while he admitted that he expected more positive cases at the penal facility, he said this was mostly due to the backlog.
Dr Ward said many of the results they were expecting were from prisoners who had been tested “a few days ago”.
“It is important to get people to understand that as we may still expect some positive cases to pop up among staff and inmates that this is behind the crest of the wave. The wave has moved on and because of some of the delays and challenges that we’ve had in the country with so many tests going on in such a short space of time, what that means now is that the results we are getting back now are results that were backlogged,” Dr Ward pointed out.
“I think that is important for you to understand that it is not some ongoing explosion of cases at Dodds. What we are seeing coming up as positives would have been people who were positive several days back and we are now getting the results.”
He explained that while those inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19 were isolated, inmates awaiting results were also being isolated away from the general population to prevent any possible spread.
When asked for a timeline as to when the situation would be contained at the prison, Dr Ward said he expected authorities to have a firm grip in short order.
“I would like to think that in certainly less than 14 days everything should be normal for the inmate population,” he noted.
Dr Ward pointed out that all of the prisoners at HMP Dodds were in stable condition
In describing the scenario at the prison as “a very difficult one”, Minister of Home Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams lauded staff for their invaluable contribution in the COVID fight.
He said they were some prison officers who had worked tirelessly and whose contributions had gone a long way in helping health authorities to wrestle the situation to the ground.
“We’ve gone through a very difficult time at the prison over the last 14 or 15 days. There have been some officers recently who have gone off into quarantine having been on constant duty for over 15 days. It has not been easy. It is not the ideal situation,” Abrahams said.
“We found ourselves in an emergency situation and we had to deal with what we had to deal with. The prison is not your neighbourhood, there are concerns with respect to security, with respect to the safety of persons in prison, with respect to the integrity of the prison system…so certain decisions had to be made that reflected the severity of the concerns that we had.” ([email protected])