Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 17, 2021 (SKNIS): Twenty-six additional inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) in St. Kitts were tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total number to 37.
These additional cases were announced by health officials at a joint Press Conference with the Ministries of Health and National Security on June 17, 2021.
“Over the last 12 hours, we obtained the results of 28 positive tests with 26 in the prison and two in the general population,” said Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws gave a breakdown of the cases in the prison and noted that the first case was identified on June 09, with an additional eight cases registered on June 11 and two on June 15. Today, June 17, 26 positive cases were recorded bringing the total number to 37 inmates infected with COVID-19.
In outlining the way forward, Dr. Laws noted that the cases have been notified, will be monitored, and are all separated from the prison population.
“We continue contact tracing in the prison. Other inmates who are experiencing symptoms will be tested, so there will be serial testing of inmates in Her Majesty’s Prison so that we can pick up additional cases at the soonest,” said Dr. Laws. “All the cases that have been identified are in isolation. All of the four implicated cells have been sanitized and the additional implicated cells will be professionally sanitized.”
Minister Byron-Nisbett said that proactive steps were taken in February to have everyone in the institutions including those at Her Majesty’s Prison vaccinated.
“The health team visited the prison on several occasions to have all the inmates and staff vaccinated. We have said repeatedly that persons working at these institutions have a moral responsibility to get vaccinated,” she said. “We also impressed upon the inmates and their families the importance of being vaccinated as with the imminent threat of community spread faced back in February the vaccine was our best defense in preventing an institution outbreak. Sadly, the issue of vaccine hesitancy also exists within institutions like our prison and among the staff. While some heeded the call and got vaccinated, there were many who refused,” the minister added.
Minister Byron-Nisbett said that the prison has been closed to visitors since the pandemic started in March 2020. She underscored the importance of persons working in essential positions, where they are in contact with persons dependent on them for protection, to be vaccinated. She appealed to every adult over the age of 18 who has not been vaccinated to get vaccinated not just to protect themselves but all those who are dependent on them for protection as well.