Prison authorities here have taken fresh guard to try to stave off a potential repeat of a lockdown similar to the one they imposed back in January during a COVID-19 outbreak at HMP Dodds.
While adamant that there is no new outbreak or lockdown, prison boss Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse said on Wednesday that the management has reactivated its health protocols as a precautionary measure after 10 inmates who complained of feeling unwell were found to be showing flu-like symptoms which are known to be associated with COVID-19.
The No 2 Supreme Court had earlier been informed that two prisoners could not attend their scheduled hearing due to an outbreak in the St Philip prison.
“I have been informed by prison authorities that there is an outbreak of some nature at that institution and no prisoners can leave today or for the foreseeable future. Therefore, I am asking that we adjourn until at least Friday,” Senior Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas told Justice Randall Worrell when the gun and ammunition trial of Adrian Bradshaw and Brian King came up.
Declaring that he did not want another “January” at the institution, Lt Col Nurse made it clear he was willing to test everybody in the penal facility if necessary.
“You know that in the community if Bob says he is feeling unwell and you test Bob, you also look at everybody around Bob. So we are going to do our due diligence. So if we have to test every single body in a building…we are going to do all of that. We don’t want another January,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The prison head admitted that the inmates had to be excluded from attending their scheduled hearings in the law courts on Wednesday as a precautionary measure, even though their first tests which were conducted Tuesday came back negative.
He said: “If you are being tested you can’t move around until the second test comes back and say you are negative. That is a national protocol. So, if we’ve got five, six or even seven people who are being tested, they’re held, you can’t move them until the second test.
“All of the first tests so far have come back negative. But that doesn’t mean anything until the second test has come back. Yesterday we were told there were about seven or 10 people who we needed to test…because they were in the same area. So we did that.
“There is no outbreak. People have expressed that they are feeling a certain way…. First, I want to make sure that you are negative, then we can look at other things…and that is normal.”
Lt Col Nurse told Barbados TODAY that the prison has to invoke the health protocols regularly, including holding back inmates from attending their scheduled court appearances, whenever someone has a cough or flu.
“The same court people would tell you it’s not the first time…. Almost monthly, we have people, especially during this hot time… who will come down with a cough or so. And this is not peculiar to COVID, this is an annual process,” he said.
During the January outbreak, 49 members of staff and 121 inmates tested positive for COVID-19.