Exactly 54 prison officers and 44 inmates contracted the deadly Covid-19 virus since it broke in the country in March.
The number accounts for cases in prisons all around the country, with the most recent case recorded in early November.
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.
Visiting of inmates was banned, with court cases involving prisoner movement suspended during the first few months of the outbreak.
Speaking to Francis Abban on the Morning Starr Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prisons Service Superintendent Courage Atsem noted that the recorded cases were reported and special rooms were designated for isolation and monitoring of new inmates, to curb the spread.
He revealed that “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.”
On how infected persons were isolated, with cells taking about fifty to sixty people and cubicles housing ten to fifteen people, more than three times the expected numbers, he noted “it is important to indicate that all the cases recorded especially from the side of the inmates were imported to the prison. It was through the inmates that the officers also got infected.”
“Through the admission process and all. So, what the police administration did was to designate seven facilities purposely for new admissions. The idea was that we didn’t want to add new inmates whose status we didn’t know, to the existing stock.”
“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.
Superintendent Atsem indicated that “we have our infirmaries and a few medical staff who monitor. They do not do the testing because we don’t have the facility to do covid testing in our prisons.”
“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.”
Covid Safety Protocols
The PRO revealed that because social distancing was impossible due to congestion, mask wearing\, washing of hands, and limited mass gathering were being effectively observed.”
He maintained “they have masks, all of them. As for the mask-wearing, it’s something they observe very well. As for social distancing, it’s impossible.”
“I think that maybe some of us got it and recovered and never got to know,” he added.
It is important to note that no Covid-19 related death has been recorded in any of the prisons.