The Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service(GPS), Superintendent Courage Atsem has revealed that 98 coronavirus cases were recorded with exactly 54 prison officers and 44 inmates contracting it since it came into the country in March 2020.
“From March till now, for inmates, we had a total of forty-four cases, for officers we had a total of fifty-four cases. And I must say that as we speak now all of them have recovered. We don’t have an active case at the moment.”
Speaking during an interview, he revealed that, the recorded cases were reported and special rooms were designated for isolation and monitoring of new inmates, to curb the spread.
He further indicated that, the number of recorded cases, accounts for prisons all around the country, with the most recent case recorded in early November where he added that, no Covid-19 related death has been recorded in any of the prisons.
Touching on how affected inmates were isolated in the quest to mitigate the spread, he revealed that, his outfit designated seven facilities purposely for new admissions and isolation purposes.
“Because we know that due to the congestion, should one case happen, based on the total number, the rate of transmission will be very fast and huge. Therefore, the prisons administration designated these facilities just for new admissions. And because the numbers were not huge we were able to manage. Some rooms were designated for isolation and management of such cases.”
Explaining the reason for the designation of facilities for new admissions, Superintendent Atsem said that, his outfit did not want to add new inmates whose status they did not know, to the existing inmates.
He also noted that, all the coronavirus cases recorded especially from the side of the inmates were imported to the prison adding that, it was through the inmates that the officers also got infected.
Highlighting on the safety measures in the various prisons, Superintendent Atsem posited that, because social distancing was impossible due to congestion in the buildings, mask wearing, washing of hands, and limited mass gathering were being effectively observed.
He added that, although the social distancing was impossible, the mask wearing was one protocol the inmates were observing very well because all of them have the mask.
With regards to testing for COVID-19, he said his outfit did not carry out the testing due to lack of facilities but their infirmaries had medical staff who monitored.
“When people are brought into our custody, they are kept under observation, monitored by our medical staff and if anybody shows any symptoms or any signs, the person is referred to the appropriate quarters for testing.”
At the initial stages of COVID-19 in Ghana’s, prisons were one of the most delicate institutions government pinpointed to suffer from the virus and put stringent safety measures in place to prevent the spread amongst inmates and officers.
In that regard, visiting of inmates was banned, with court cases involving prisoner movement suspended during the first few months of the outbreak