BASSETERRE, ST. Kitts - HER MAJESTY’S PRISON in Basseterre is being described as the hotspot for the Coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases within the penitentiary continues to increase despite the implementation of restrictive measures to stem its spread.
During a joint press conference between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Security yesterday afternoon (June 17), it was disclosed by Health Minister Akilah Byron-Nisbett that the Federation recorded 28 new cases within the last 12 hours, and within that number 26 were from the prison, while the remainder were from the general public.
That confirmation brought the overall number of infections within the prisons to 35, added to the nine that were recorded last week.
Health officials are concerned with the outbreak, as over 150 inmates are within a confined space within the aged facility, and many of those who are housed at the location have refused to be vaccinated.
And this, Minister Byron-Nisbett explained, comes despite repeated calls for those staff and inmates at the HMP to get vaccinated.
“...we also pressed upon the inmates and their families the importance of being vaccinated...Sadly, the issue of vaccine hesitancy exists within institutions like within the prison and among the staff,” she added.
The Minister described the outbreak as a cluster within the facility, underscoring that the outbreak should highlight that persons who are working in essential organisations should get vaccinated.
While addressing the media brief, Osmond Petty, Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of National Security, disclosed that decisions and recommendations were laid out to address the outbreak during a meeting between the Ministry and officials from the prison .
Commissioner of Corrections, Terrance James outlined some of the measures currently being taken to combat the spread of the virus within the facility.
Among those measures are: no outside travel for the inmates; deep cleaning of cells; engagement of inmates and staff in the area of education of the virus; and the establishment of quarantine areas.