Superintendent of Prisons Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse has apologised to prison officers for the ad hoc COVID-19 testing that took place last week, following the identification of a new cluster of cases at the St Philip jail.
While the testing was done “in good faith”, he said, it had not been sanctioned by the management.
Last week, outspoken trade unionist and consultant to the Prison Officers’ Association, Caswell Franklyn said some prison officers were not pleased about a sudden testing mandate at the start of their shifts, amid an outbreak at the penal institution.
However, a notice dated February 2, 2022 and titled Apology to staff, which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, stated that the Superintendent of Prisons sincerely apologised for and deeply regretted any inconvenience caused by the testing they had to undergo that day.
“I wish to assure you that the testing was conducted in good faith by the Medical Unit Team to ensure the safety of all members of staff, our families and the inmates. Unfortunately, prior authorisation from the management of the Barbados Prison Service and the sensitisation of staff did not occur.
“We do understand the concerns raised by members of staff as a result of the testing and you are therefore encouraged to continue making suggestions to ensure the safety and well-being for all members of staff going forward,” the correspondence stated.
One officer had told Barbados TODAY that officers were surprised when they were greeted at the gates by employees of the Medical Unit Team who informed them they had to be tested and would not be allowed to begin their shift if they failed to comply.
In a statement issued by Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams earlier on the same day the testing was done, it was reported that five COVID-19 cases had been discovered among the tested employees.
The testing had been triggered by more than 50 inmates, kitchen staffers and prison officers testing positive a few days prior. [email protected]