3 new inmates and nurse at Changi Prison tested positive for virus in past 2 months

SPS said it has implemented a range of precautionary measures for both inmates and staff.
SPS said it has implemented a range of precautionary measures for both inmates and staff.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Three inmates, who had been newly admitted into prison, and a staff nurse working at the Changi Prison Complex had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past two months.

The four patients are not linked to one another and there are no cases of further infection arising from these cases, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said yesterday.

All three inmates underwent cohort segregation for 14 days and were admitted on different days. Testing for Covid-19 is part of the admission process.

When the inmates tested positive for the virus, they had not been with the general inmate population at any time. They were immediately isolated from the rest of the newly admitted inmates and housed in a separate prison facility.

The first inmate tested positive on April 21, the second on April 22 and the third on May 9.

Two of the three inmates have recovered and returned to the general prison population. The third inmate remains clinically well and has tested negative for the virus, but remains isolated as a precaution.

The staff nurse, from SPS' medical service provider, tested positive for the virus on April 24. He has also recovered and is back at work.

The Health Ministry said yesterday that the cases did not constitute a cluster. "The cases had been included earlier in our daily updates on new Covid-19 cases," the ministry added.

Since then, there have been no new cases in the prisons, SPS said.

SPS said it has implemented a range of precautionary measures for inmates and staff, such as segregating all newly admitted inmates for 14 days from the general inmate population. The new inmates also have to be tested for the virus upon admission and at the end of the segregation period.

During the circuit breaker, all family visits and face-to-face programmes for inmates have been suspended. Instead, inmates keep in contact with their families through phone calls and letters. Following the lifting of the circuit breaker from June 2, family visits and face-to-face programmes for inmates will be resumed in a gradual and phased manner.

Certain core rehabilitation programmes, such as academic classes, may gradually resume with safe distancing measures in place.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 31, 2020, with the headline '3 new inmates and nurse at Changi Prison tested positive for virus in past 2 months'. Print Edition | Subscribe