Press conference with Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams at HMP Dodds. (PMO)

The current COVID-19 situation at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Dodds has been described as stable and under control.

This assessment, from a medical standpoint, was given by Dr. Carl Ward, who works in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and is currently at HMP Dodds, in the capacity as a Public Health Liaison. He was speaking during a press conference last evening at HMP Dodds. 

Dr. Ward stated: “So the overall situation is stable, … better yet, I would say improving.  As I would have mentioned, 73 people got discharged yesterday, and a further 34 should be discharged tomorrow (today).”

He also reported that to date, the total number of positive cases, including staff and inmates from the prison is 240, and that there were no positive COVID-19 cases among the female inmate population, and “our goal is to absolutely keep it that way”.

Dr. Ward also spoke about the medical facility that was set up to handle positive cases, which is being overseen by staff from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). That facility comprises 18 regular beds and two critical care beds with space for expansion.

“Thus far, three individuals have been treated in the facility, two inmates and one officer… [and] at present there is no one being treated within that facility, so therefore, I can let the public know that the inmates are stable.”

He also mentioned that there were eight inmates and two officers who have “pending positive” results.  He said the term refers to when a swab test is conducted and the result could be labelled pending positive, where it is looking positive. The laboratory then runs a confirmatory test to prove whether a person is positive or not.

Dr. Carl Ward of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, said the COVID-19 situation at the prison is improving with73 people discharged yesterday, and a further 34 to be discharged today. (PMO)

To clarify why the daily update of COVID-19 cases include prison inmates and staff, Dr. Ward explained that due to the backlog in testing, those numbers were from tests that would have been conducted during the period of backlog and the results were now being reported. 

The Public Health Liaison stressed: “I think it is also important to let people understand that we may still expect some positive cases to pop up among staff and inmates, [but] this is behind the crest of the wave, the wave has crested; the wave has moved on …. And I think that is important for you to understand, that it is not some ongoing explosion of cases at Dodds. What you are seeing coming up as positive would have been people that were positive several days back and we are now getting the result.”

When questioned about how the separation of positive and negative COVID-19 inmates was handled, Dr. Ward said that the administration at HMP Dodds had identified blocks to be used for isolation purposes, including the “pretty large” block where new inmates coming into the system go, before they are released into the general prison population. 

He said staff from the QEH monitor all blocks every day, checking for symptoms and paying special attention to those blocks containing positive inmates. 

He added that this is done because patients with COVID-19 may sometimes deteriorate very quickly, and can go from having pretty minor symptoms, such as a sore throat, to needing a ventilator.

Dr. Ward also reported that once inmates had spent 14 days in isolation they would be allowed to return to the general population because “their chance of getting back COVID-19 and spreading it again are miniscule”. 

sheena.forde-craigg@barbados.gov.bb

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