COVID-19 has found its way back into HMP Dodds.
This time it is only a solitary case that has been reported so far at the St Philip penal institution.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams confirmed to Barbados TODAY that one worker at the island’s lone prison had tested positive for the potentially fatal respiratory virus.
He said contact tracing had been done and all other tests had so far come back negative.
Abrahams said he was made aware of the situation by Superintendent of Prisons, John Nurse.
Reports reaching Barbados TODAY were that the positive test was linked to the COVID-19 cluster at the church in the north of the island.
“I can confirm that one person who works at the prison would have tested positive for COVID-19. They were contact traced through something else.
“Our protocols are quite stringent as you know, especially following what happened at the prison. Our protocols are quite intense and rigidly adhered to. All persons with whom that individual would have come into contact have been tested and they are all negative. So yes it is true that someone who works at the prison tested positive but there is no indication of any spread into the prison as a result of that,” Abrahams said.
The Home Affairs minister maintained it was nothing close to the crisis situation that developed in January at Dodds, where 363 persons were infected, including 85 prison officers, 261 inmates and 17 staff members.
It led to a situation where a temporary facility was established at HMP Dodds to treat inmates and staff while a decision was taken not to receive or release any prisoners, even those who had completed their sentences.
Abrahams said there was no reason to panic.
“The reality is that as this progresses every single one of us is going to know someone who has tested positive whether you work in the prison, whether you work in a pharmacy, or in a school, all areas, all sectors, all businesses in Barbados are going to get touched at some point in time.
“All I can say is that if we keep adhering to the protocols we can’t prevent everyone from getting it but in the instances where persons do get it, it will help to curtail the spread and stop us from losing control on what is going on. So this is not even close to the situation which obtained the first time. It just happens that this person, not through the prison, would have contracted COVID…” Abrahams explained.
Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn told Barbados TODAY he was aware of prison officers being sent home from last Thursday.
He accused Government of trying to keep the situation a secret.
“They sent home some people last week Thursday; the office staff and the prison officers who were supposed to go to court. I don’t know how many but the staff was asked to go and get tested and I think one person gone to St Lucy [Harrison’s Point].
“They haven’t made it public because they are trying to keep it under wraps again,” Franklyn suggested.