Namibia: Prisons Nearly Cleared of Covid

19 November 2020

Correctional facilities across the country are nearly cleared of Covid-19, with only 11 active cases left from a total of 600 reported since 11 June this year. The first case was reported at the Walvis Bay correctional facility.

Namibian Correctional Services head of staff Commissioner Sam Shaalulange said by Tuesday this week, there were only ten active cases at Oluno and one at the Evaristus Shikongo correctional facility.

A total of 1 985 inmates were tested for the virus across the country. He said 104 officials had also tested positive, however, all of them have been cleared.

A total of 610 officials were tested for Covid-19 across the country. Of the inmates who tested positive, one inmate is reported to have died as a result of Covid-19.

Assistant Commissioner Veikko Armas, who is in charge of the Oluno correctional facility, said the remaining active cases were doing well.

Oluno until Tuesday had recorded 158 active cases since it recorded its first case on 28 September.

At the same facility nine officials also tested positive, but they have already recovered.

Armas said the first case at the facility was reported following an admission of an offender from the high risk Oshakati police holding cells at the time.

"He was isolated for 14 days but did not present any symptoms at the time. After he was released from isolation, he later developed mild symptoms and later tested positive," said Armas.

As part of the mitigating factors, Armas said admissions to the facility were suspended to allow the facility to have space to quarantine and isolate inmates who test positive.

He said offenders who are sentenced are transferred to other correctional facilities in order to contain and prevent the further spread of the virus.

Armas further said visits to the facility remain suspended until such a time it is deemed safe.

Shaalulange said at present only visits to Oluno remain suspended for sentenced inmates, while elsewhere visitors are required to book in advance.

Shaalulange further said there is a limit of visitors enforced for trial-awaiting inmates.

Other mechanisms in place at Oluno include the introduction of a task force to deal with the psychosocial well-being of the inmates who test positive.

- nashipala@nepc.com.na

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