Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds is now COVID-19 free.
After almost two months of battling the outbreak at the St Philip-based facility, Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams told members of the media today that as of yesterday, there were currently no active cases of COVID-19 among the staff or prison population.
“This potentially disastrous situation was managed and brought under control through rigid adherence to protocols set for its control and by constant communication, co-operation by and between all concerned and this included the inmate population at the prison as well.
“A special thank you must be given to the members of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) and the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), the medical staff of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). And I want to specially shout out Dr Corey Forde and Dr Carl Ward. Carl Ward was hands-on and instrumental in assisting us in managing the situation at the prison,” he said during a press conference this morning where he also extended gratitude to other persons and organizations that offered assistance during the crisis.
Between December 31 and January 20, all members of staff and the prison population were tested for COVID-19.
Initially, 53 people tested positive at the time, a number which grew to 102 members of staff and 264 prisoners testing positive at the peak of the outbreak.
Today, Minister Abrahams also reported that the systems at the prison have returned to pre-crisis arrangements with virtual courts now in operation at both the High and Magistrates’ Courts. He said virtual visits have resumed and the inmate telephone system with family and friends.
Abrahams said operations have been re-established in the kitchen, the auto-mechanics workshop, tailor shop, and on the farm. Sanitization and sanitation maintenance of the housing units and work areas at the facility, as well as maintenance and upkeep of the Dodds landscape have also resumed.
Dodds is now once again accepting remand prisoners from the law courts, the Minister said.
He also explained that the emergency protocols with respect to the (BDF) and the (RBPF) assisting in managing Her Majesty’s Prison during the crisis has been halted.
“So we are now back fully into Her Majesty’s Prison being managed, run by staff, and scheduling including only members of the Barbados Prison Service. Another good thing is that the protocol for ensuring the timely release of those who served their entire sentence has been working well and the persons due for release are being released on schedule,” he said.
Abrahams also announced that more than 64 members of staff have received the COVID-19 vaccine and others will also be vaccinated next week. He said because some people experience side effects after receiving the vaccine, the decision was made not to vaccinate the majority of the prison officers at the same time.
“We had to stagger it to make sure that we don’t compromise the shifts that we worked so hard to build back,” he said.
Superintendent of Prisons John Nurse said the last two people who had COVID-19 at the prison were cleared on Wednesday and Thursday. (AH)