SINGAPORE — There are 169 inmates who are currently COVID-19 positive across all of Singapore's prison facilities as of Wednesday (10 November).
The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said in a media release on Thursday that another 54 supervisees - who are inmates placed on community-based programmes - and nine of its staff are also COVID positive.
"While no staff or inmates are currently hospitalised for COVID-19, three supervisees are currently hospitalised for COVID-19 as they are symptomatic. Their condition is currently stable," it added.
The 169 inmates comprise newly-admitted inmates who were infected before entering prisons and were detected by SPS during their 14-day cohort segregation upon entering; inmates who reported sick with acute respiratory infection symptoms in the prisons; and 116 inmates from Institution A1, including prisoners awaiting capital punishment (PACPs), who tested positive from last Saturday to Wednesday.
Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who is facing execution and was staying in Institution A1, was granted a stay of his execution by a three-judge Court of Appeal after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal had been urgently convened to hear Nagaenthran's challenge against his death sentence, which was to have been carried out on Wednesday.
SPS said that it has temporarily placed Institution A1 on lockdown, and has enhanced the testing regime for staff, inmates, and personnel such as vendors and volunteers entering prisons.
Face-to-face visits for PACPs have been temporarily suspended, to minimise movements in the prison and lower the risk of virus transmission. These visits will be replaced with phone calls instead.
In addition, SPS has temporarily suspended all counselling sessions, and will arrange for virtual counselling sessions when the situation has stabilised.
Three instances of clusters formed in prison facilities in 2021
SPS said in its media release that it has placed additional measures to protect vulnerable groups, such as elderly and medically vulnerable inmates. For instance, they are housed with inmates who have been fully vaccinated, and undergo rostered routine testing (RRT) if they are required to stay in medical wards for prolonged periods.
As for the general inmate population, face-to-face visits have been suspended since 4 October, although the inmates continue to receive tele-visits from their family members and can also communicate with them through electronic letters.
As of Sunday, 97 per cent of eligible inmates have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 90 per cent have completed both doses. As for the prison staff, 99.5 per cent have completed both doses of vaccination.
SPS said it had experienced three instances of COVID-19 clusters forming in prison facilities in the past year. The first cluster was in May, involving a prison kitchen chef at Changi Prison Complex, with 13 inmates who were in close contact with him being tested positive.
The next cluster occurred in July at Selarang Park Complex, where six supervisees were tested positive during their RRTs. The third cluster emerged in August at the Selarang Halfway House, involving 16 supervisees.
All those who had been infected amid these three clusters have fully recovered.
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