169 detainees positive for COVID-19, according to the Singapore prison service

Singapore Prison Service. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE – As of Wednesday, November 10, 169 inmates were currently positive for COVID-19 in all prisons in Singapore.

The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said in a press release Thursday that 54 other supervisees – who are inmates placed in community programs – and nine of its employees are also COVID positive.

“Although no staff or inmates are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, three supervisees are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 because they are symptomatic. Their condition is currently stable,” he added.

The 169 inmates include newly admitted inmates who were infected before entering prisons and were detected by the SPS during their 14-day cohort isolation upon entry; prisoners who have reported sick with symptoms of acute respiratory infection in prisons; and 116 detainees at the A1 establishment, including prisoners awaiting death penalty (PACP), who tested positive from Saturday to Wednesday last.

Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who is at risk of execution and was staying at A1 facility, was granted a stay of execution by a three-judge appeals court after testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday .

The appeal court was summoned urgently to hear Nagaenthran’s challenge to his death sentence, which was due to be executed on Wednesday.

The SPS said it had temporarily locked Institution A1 and improved the testing regime for staff, inmates and staff such as vendors and volunteers entering prisons.

Face-to-face visits for PACPs have been temporarily suspended, in order to minimize travel within the prison and reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. These visits will be replaced by phone calls.

In addition, SPS has temporarily suspended all counseling sessions and will hold virtual counseling sessions when the situation stabilizes.

Three cases of clusters formed in penitentiary establishments in 2021

The SPS said in its press release that it had put in place additional measures to protect vulnerable groups, such as elderly and medically vulnerable detainees. For example, they are housed with inmates who have been fully immunized and undergo routine testing (RRT) if they are to stay in medical wards for extended periods of time.

As for the general prison population, in-person visits have been suspended since October 4, although inmates continue to receive televisions from family members and can also communicate with them via email.

As of Sunday, 97% of eligible inmates had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 90% had completed both doses. As for prison staff, 99.5% completed the two doses of vaccination.

The SPS said it had experienced three cases of COVID-19 cluster formation in prison facilities over the past year. The first group took place in May, involving a prison chef at the Changi Penitentiary Complex, 13 inmates who were in close contact with him tested positive.

The next group performed in July at the Selarang Park Complex, where six supervisees tested positive during their TRRs. The third group emerged in August at the Selarang halfway house, involving 16 supervisees.

Everyone who had been infected in the midst of these three clusters made a full recovery.

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