A chef working at Changi Prison was confirmed on May 15th to have COVID-19. This new infection case will cause nearly 5,000 inmates, staff and partners at Changi Prison to be tested for COVID-19 over the next few days.
The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is taking immediate action to curb any potential cluster. An announcement on Saturday, May 15th said all inmates’ face-to-face visits and tele-visits will not be allowed from Monday, May 17th onwards. They will be replaced by phone calls until further notice.
The confirmed case
The SPS says the confirmed case is a chef working as a contract staff in the Changi prison kitchen. He is a contract employee of SATS Food Services. His workplace is the kitchen at Institution A5 in Cluster A of Changi Prison.
Known as Case 63160, the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) reported this man on Friday as an unlinked community case. The man however, is fully vaccinated.
According to records, Wednesday is the last day the 39-year-old reported for work. After work, he felt unwell. He had symptoms of a fever and runny nose. Soon after, he sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic. He received a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19. The next day, his test result came back positive for COVID-19.
At Institution A5, SPS immediately ceased kitchen operations. Contact tracing operations among staff and inmates begun upon confirmation of the chef’s infection.
The SPS said all close contacts of the man have been isolated or under quarantine pending issuance of an official quarantine order.
Affected inmates will be isolated from the rest of the inmate population while serving their quarantine orders in prison. At MOH’s designated quarantine facility, staff, vendors and volunteers will serve their quarantines there.
The SPS have suspended many activities in Institution A5. These include the halt of family visits, counselling sessions and non-critical hospital appointments. This is a precautionary measure in Institution A5 where the chef worked.
Thorough disinfection and cleaning of all affected areas has been carried out.
The new case has called for all inmates, staff, vendors and volunteers who have been to Institution A5 from Monday to Wednesday to undergo PCR testing. According to the SPS, around 1,050 inmates, staff and partners will be tested.
Changi Prison layout
The Changi Prison complex has two clusters, Cluster A and Cluster B. Each cluster contains five institutions. Institutions A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5 are under Cluster A.
While the test results for those placed on quarantine order are pending, the SPS said it will take a “highly precautionary measure” to test all inmates, staff and partners from Cluster A.
The service said “This is to ensure that the virus does not spread undetected within prisons, and that any asymptomatic cases are promptly identified and isolated.”
Over the next few days, nearly 5,000 people will be tested in stages.
According to the SPS, the suspending inmate activities include rehabilitation programmes. This is necessary to facilitate the testing.
No face-to-face visits
Until further notice, there will be no face-to-face visits and tele-visits for all inmates from May 17th onwards. This is in light of the tighter measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 community transmission. The SPS said the visits will be replaced with phone calls.
The service said as face-to-face visits and tele-visits do not take place on Sundays. As such, the measures will come into force from Monday, May 17th.
The SPS will have families automatically convert visits to phone calls if they already booked their visits. Through e-letters, inmates can continue to communicate with their families.
During this critical period, the SPS also suspends all rehabilitation programmes conducted by vendors and volunteers.
15th May 2021 23:00
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