Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams announced on Monday that the situation at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds remains fluid but is under complete control.
The minister said he had received frequent calls and assured the public that there has been no situation at the prison that has threatened this.
“There is no unrest at the prison . . . . There have been no reported incidents at the prison that should cause concern to anyone. I just want to make that very, very clear,” the minister said.
“The integrity of the security of Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds is entirely under control.”
Abrahams noted that it is unfortunate that the top five officials at the prison are not in a position to lead because they are either in quarantine or isolation.
Major Cedric Proverbs of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) has therefore taken up operational control as Assistant Superintendent of Prisons in the interim.
Abrahams thanked members of the Barbados Defence Force and the Royal Barbados Police Force for boosting the staff complement at the prison since two prison officers initially tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and that number has extended to other staff and inmates.
The minister said all prison officers, staff and inmates had been tested for coronavirus over the last few days. The results are being processed, while the separation of positive and negative cases is ongoing.
He said 49 staff and 121 inmates have tested positive thus far. One female inmate has tested positive. He assured family and friends of inmates that officials are also concerned for the wellbeing of their loved ones and the best is being done to care for them in a difficult situation.
Only essential services are being provided at HMP Dodds. Meals for inmates are being prepared at the Schools Meals Service, while meals for staff are being provided by the BDF.
Abrahams said laundry is being done more frequently.
He said while medical staff has been reduced, staff and inmates in need of care are receiving it. The minister explained that HMP Dodds was not built to house the number of staff currently there and alternative arrangements have been made such as the construction of tents.
Abrahams was speaking during a live press conference which was also addressed by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, chairman of the Cabinet COVID-19 Sub-Committee Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic and Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George.
The press conference was held to give an update on the management of COVID-19 in Barbados.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reached 606. Over 200 news cases were recorded for Friday and Saturday after Government announced a spike linked to a “super spreader event” on Boxing Day.
Government is also investigating a number of other clusters. (KG)