Monday, 28 June 2021

Pretoria: The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) says it continues to implement measures to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, in an effort to protect officials, inmates and the general public.

As part of implementing preventative measures and adhering to all regulations to curb the spread of infections, the department said visits to all correctional and remand detention centres across the country, has been suspended.

In a statement, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, reported that the vaccination rollout is also progressing, with healthcare workers, including officials and inmates aged 60 and above registered and receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

The rollout is monitored through the department’s Vaccination Rollout Coordinating Committee, which comprises healthcare officials from head office and all regions.

“As of 24 June 2021, 797 healthcare professionals, amounting to 77.9% of the total Correctional Services healthcare workers, had already received their vaccines. Ninety officials as well as 537 inmates aged over 60, also received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine,” Lamola said.

He said other inmates and officials will receive vaccines during the next phases.

The Minister added that the department remains committed to ensuring that inmates receive their COVID-19 vaccinations in order to achieve population immunity in correctional facilities.

“We continue to implement and adhere to protocols, in line with the DCS Standard Operating Procedures for the Preparedness, Detection and Response to COVID-19. As of 24 June, DCS had a total of 322 [including] 282 officials and 40 inmates’ active cases which translates to 0.61% of officials and 0.03 % of inmates.

“The cumulative total of positive cases to date amounts to 12 345 (7 820 officials and 4 525 inmates). The number of recoveries amount to 11 761, which translates to a recovery rate of 95.27%. Deaths amount to 260 (182 officials and 78 inmates),” Lamola said.

Ninety sites approved for vaccination

Lamola said the department is ready for the rollout of the next phase of vaccinations, with 90 sites approved for vaccination.

He said this will enable vaccination of the 138 828 inmates currently incarcerated.

Officials and inmates are being reached through awareness campaigns on the importance of vaccination throughout all regions.

“It is important for inmates to get vaccinated, as this is in line with the Nelson Mandela Rules which clearly stipulate that inmates should enjoy the same standards of healthcare available in the community. Inmates are also vulnerable to infection, and their vaccination will ensure protection of both correctional officials and the general public,” Lamola emphasised.

The Minister said the department will also continue to implement preventative measures, including screening officials, inmates, essential workers and service providers accessing facilities.

He said new admissions are screened and quarantined, should they show any symptoms and they are monitored and admitted for quarantine purposes.

“Contact tracing for all confirmed cases, including officials and inmates, is carried out. All close contacts are quarantined and monitored for symptoms, then tested as per Department of Health guidelines.

“All correctional centres have Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). Inmates have also contributed to this by producing some of the PPEs, including facemasks totalling 550 103, as well as sanitizer stands.” Lamola said.