Tuesday 7 July, 2020

Correctional centres getting thermal scanners amid COVID-19 fight

Matthew Samuda

Matthew Samuda

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS), as part of its ongoing COVID-19 mitigation plan, is procuring thermal scanners to assist with the prevention and/or detection of the virus among staff, inmates and children in its care.

“In light of the growing concern to keep the virus at bay, the DCS has placed an order for 40 new digital thermal scanners and delivery is expected within the first week of April. This is a part of the strategic push to acquire protective gears and body temperature scanners,” said Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda.

He added that hand wash basins and hand sanitisers have been placed at the entrance of each facility.

“I have organised with my team at the ministry and senior officials from the DCS, digital meetings to conduct a weekly review of the conditions in each institution, to ensure that our plans are being actualised,” he further indicated.

The DCS COVID-19 Contingency Plan (CONPLAN) was approved by senior officials and is being implemented by Director of Medical Services, Dr Donna-Michelle Royer-Powe, and her medical team at each institution.

Royer-Powe said sourcing thermal scanners locally has been a major challenge, but the DCS should receive additional supplies from overseas.

“We were only able to source two scanners locally, and those were sent to Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre and Horizon Adult Remand Centre. The ministry and DCS have identified a(nother) source and as a matter of urgency, we should have thermal scanners operational in all our institutions shortly,” she said.

Meanwhile, correctional officers are being encouraged to wear casual clothing while making their way to work, then change into uniforms before assuming duties, as the virus can be transmitted through clothing. The officers on parade and at work are instructed to keep a distance of three feet from each other, and are prohibited from gathering in crowds.

The DCS medical team has also hosted sensitisation sessions and distributed educational materials in the form of booklets and pamphlets, with information from the Ministry of Health and Wellness to all levels of staff, as well as inmates, regarding preventative measures and how to treat with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Provisions are also being made to implement tele-counselling in the institutions as a modern form of receiving therapy through a secured platform, which would facilitate conversations between a counsellor and the client.

The DCS said it appreciates the understanding of family members and friends of inmates and wards in working together with the authorities through any inconvenience that may arise as a result of the new initiatives.

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