Almost 600 coronavirus infections in SA’s prisons
There has been a steep jump in the number of coronavirus infections in the prison system.
On Saturday, the number of infections stood at 388 but by Sunday the number had jumped to 571.
Department of correctional services (DCS) spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo explained the sudden jump in infections.
“It must be noted that on May 5 2020, a total of 477 inmates were tested in East London. The first batch of results was received on May 11 2020, confirming 103 positive cases, 78 testing negative and 277 results remained outstanding. DCS is now able to confirm that 178 of the 277 inmates also tested positive, which illustrates the upturn in East London,” said Nxumalo.
A total of 393 prisoners have tested positive for the virus and 178 DCS officials. Of all these cases, 99 have recorded recoveries while four have resulted in fatalities.
Nxumalo said in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the medical advisory panel has advised correctional services to go beyond the prescribed screening procedures.
“As a result, DCS has commenced with advanced screening, which includes assessment of vital signs. At least 1,087 specimens from inmates were collected on May 16, and this will now be the norm,” he said.
“Infection prevention control is receiving the necessary attention as it plays a critical role in curbing the spread of infection in our centres. DCS will continue to separate newly admitted inmates from other inmates for at least 14 days,” Nxumalo said.
The Eastern Cape has reported the bulk of the infections, with 414 cases reported. This includes 55 officials and 359 inmates. Two deaths have been reported in the province.
The Western Cape has 134 cases comprising of 109 officials and 25 inmates. Two deaths have also been reported there.
Limpopo prisons have reported two coronavirus infections, both involving officials.
Gauteng has 16 cases — seven officials and nine inmates.
The Northern Cape has two cases, both officials. The Free State and KwaZulu-Natal have each reported one case, both officials.