537 elderly prisoners have received Covid-19 jabs

The department of correctional services says it will not slack on its Covid-19 preventative measures.
The department of correctional services says it will not slack on its Covid-19 preventative measures.
Image: Allan Swart/123RF/ File photo

While the health ministry pushes for vaccination of the elderly, those behind bars have not been left behind.

On Monday the department of correctional services (DCS) reported that its vaccination processes for prisoners who are 60 and above was going according to plan with more than 500 prisoners vaccinated to date.

The prisoners were receiving their jabs alongside prison healthcare workers and guards.

“As of June 24, 797 healthcare professionals, or 77.9% of correctional services healthcare workers, had received their vaccines. Ninety officials and 537 inmates aged over 60 also received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Other inmates and officials will receive vaccines during the next phases,” said department spokesperson Sechaba Mphahlele.

The vaccine rollout was being monitored through the DCS vaccination rollout coordinating committee, which comprises healthcare officials from head office and all regions.

The department said it had 90 approved vaccination sites to cater for the 138,828 prisoners under its care.

In a bid to lower the soaring number of Covid-19 infections, Mphahlele announced that visits to prisons had been suspended again.

Covid-19 infections had at one point soared behind bars and among prison workers.

Last week, the DCS said it had 322 active Covid-19 cases in its system. This included 282 officials and 40 prisoners.

“The cumulative total of positive cases to date amounts to 12,345 (7,820 officials and 4,525 inmates). The number of recoveries amount to 11,761, which translates to a recovery rate of 95.27%,” said Mphahlele.

A total of 260 people linked to DCS have died of Covid-19 since the outbreak. This included 182 officials and 78 inmates.

Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said the DCS would not slack on its Covid-19 preventative measures.

“New admissions are screened and quarantined. Should they show any symptoms, they are monitored and admitted for quarantine purposes. Contact tracing for all confirmed cases, including officials and inmates, is carried out. All close contacts are quarantined and monitored for symptoms, then tested as per department of health guidelines,” Lamola said.

“All correctional centres have personal protective equipment (PPE). Inmates have contributed to this by producing PPE, including facemasks and sanitiser stands.”


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