SINGAPORE: Activities in prison institutions will "gradually and safely resume" following the closure of the Changi Prison Complex COVID-19 cluster, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Thursday (Jul 8).
"The resumption of face-to-face visits will be reviewed in line with the COVID- 19 situation in the community," said SPS.
"Family members will be kept informed of the date when face-to-face visits can resume."
Face-to-face visits and tele-visits for all inmates were halted on May 17 as part of tighter measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 community transmission following the emergence of infections.
Tele-visits for inmates resumed on Jul 1, and vendor- and volunteer-run programmes gradually resuming on Jul 5.
CLOSURE OF COVID-19 CLUSTER
Activities at Changi Prison Complex were suspended on May 13, after a SATS chef working at a prison kitchen in Institution A5 of Cluster A tested positive for COVID-19.
Thirteen inmates, part of the Changi Prison Complex cluster that tested positive for COVID-19, had also worked at the same prison kitchen.
The virus did not spread beyond this group of inmates, who have since recovered and are well, said SPS.
As there have been no new cases for the past two incubation periods (28 days), the cluster was declared closed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) with effect from Thursday, said SPS.
SPS has also put in place measures to prevent, detect and contain any transmission of COVID-19 since the onset of the coronavirus.
Testing capabilities have been progressively enhanced since Jun 7, with rostered routine testing for staff members, vendors and volunteers who enter the prison and come into contact with inmates.
All operational staff, vendors and volunteers who frequently come into contact with inmates are scheduled for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests every two weeks, complemented with an antigen rapid test (ART) in between the two weeks of the testing cycle.
Additionally, all personnel not on the rostered routine testing regime, such as vendors and volunteers entering prison institutions on an ad-hoc basis, and who have contact with inmates, will have to undergo the ART prior to entering any prison for that day.
"These tests are mandatory and will be part of the new normal moving forward to better protect all inmates, staff and partners from COVID-19," said SPS.
"Regular testing, as well as the other COVID-19 management measures, will be reviewed periodically to ensure consistency with the COVID-19 situation in the community."