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Death row inmates, staff among more than 200 infected with COVID-19, says prison service

Death row inmates, staff among more than 200 infected with COVID-19, says prison service

File photo of a day room in Changi Prison. (Photo: Amir Yusof)

SINGAPORE: More than 200 people across all prison facilities, including inmates and staff members, have been found to be COVID-19 positive and are in different stages of recovery, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Thursday (Nov 11).

In a media statement, SPS said that, as of Wednesday, the count comprised 169 inmates, 54 supervisees and nine staff members. Supervisees are inmates who are at the tail-end of their sentences working in the community in jobs such as those in the logistics, cleaning, and food and beverage sectors.

The comments came after Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was granted a stay of his execution on Tuesday following a positive test for COVID-19.

No staff members or inmates are currently hospitalised for COVID-19. Three supervisees are in hospital as they are symptomatic, but their condition is currently stable, said SPS.

Of the 169 inmates, 116 are from Institution A1 at Changi Prison Complex, including prisoners on death row. They tested positive for COVID-19 from Nov 6 to Nov 10.

The rest of the inmates comprise newly admitted inmates who were infected before entering prison and those who reported sick with symptoms while in prison.

SPS said it has temporarily placed Institution A1, where Nagaenthran was housed, on lockdown and enhanced the testing regime for inmates and SPS staff members, as well as for vendors and volunteers entering prisons.

FACE-TO-FACE VISITS SUSPENDED

Face-to-face visits with prisoners on death row have been temporarily suspended and replaced with phone calls to minimise movements in the prison and lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission, SPS said.

While face-to-face visits have been suspended for regular prisoners since Oct 4, death row inmates had been given an exception due to their "unique circumstances". SPS said that face-to-face visits will be reinstated when the situation has stabilised.

All counselling sessions have also been suspended, but virtual sessions will be arranged when the situation improves, SPS added.

SPS said it has also put in place additional measures to protect vulnerable groups, such as elderly and medically vulnerable inmates. This includes housing them with inmates who have been fully vaccinated and undergoing rostered routine testing if they are required to stay in medical wards for prolonged periods.

“SPS is committed to ensuring the safe and secure custody of our inmates, as well as meeting their rehabilitation needs,” it said on Thursday.

“As we move towards managing COVID-19 in an endemic stage, SPS will continue to refine and calibrate these measures based on the evolving situation in the community, so that inmates can continue their rehabilitation and recreational activities meaningfully and safely.”

As of Nov 7, 99.5 per cent of SPS staff and 90 per cent of the eligible inmate population are fully vaccinated, according to SPS. A booster vaccination exercise for both staff and inmates began in October.

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Source: CNA/ec(ac)

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