COVID-19 update and press conference – Saturday, January 23, 2021. (PMO)

The number of COVID-19 infections at HMP Dodds is on the decline, and rapid testing has been introduced at the St. Philip penal institution.

Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, shared this information during a virtual COVID-19 update headed by the COVID-19 Communications Unit Coordinator, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, this evening.

Noting that the situation at the prison was not fully under control, the Minister described it as being “100 per cent better than [it was] a week ago”.

“What I am pleased to say is…we have made significant progress in the prison. Whereas we tested over, or we had over 300 confirmed results in the prison, I think we are now down to a very, very small amount,” Mr. Abrahams said.

He added that rapid tests were also being used as the prison circumstances warrant to assist in early detection, to better manage the prison healthcare system.

Mr. Abrahams explained that as recently as today, the rapid testing system identified three persons who were suspected positive, and confirmed them as being positive.

Those inmates and those around them, he said, were isolated in an effort to control the spread, and efforts taken to reduce the risk of infection to the remaining population.

However, Mr. Abrahams noted that while the number of infections at the prison were reduced drastically, authorities were working to ensure that the situation did not recur.

“We are trying to keep everybody in terms of exercising within their quads, so that if we do have a flare up, or somebody else happens in the prison, they can be confined, or isolated to sections, as opposed to the general population,” he said.

The Minister also told the media that the prison had recorded no critical COVID-19 incidents to date. He explained that the two COVID-related cases, which were referred to the Medical Isolation Facility, were released without complications by medical personnel at the prison.

He attributed much of the success at reducing infections and maintaining a COVID-19 free environment to the sanitisation programme in place at the prison, which he said was going well and adherence to the protocols.

“So far, no one that has returned to the prison…has tested positive,” he highlighted. And, with the release of prison officers from quarantine and isolation, and their return to work, Mr. Abrahams said operations at the prison should return close to normal in the coming week.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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