Singapore's prisons remain Covid-free due to precautionary measures

The Montpellier prison in France on March 26, 2020. While Singapore's prisons have remained Covid-19-free thus far, concerns have been swirling regarding overseas inmate facilities. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - With closed, confined quarters and near-constant contact, prisons are a hotbed for the spread of contagious diseases such as the Covid-19, and the panic associated with it.

Fortunately, according to the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), there has been no SPS staff or inmate infected to date.

An SPS spokesman told The New Paper it has taken the necessary precautionary measures to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

She said: "We are closely monitoring the health and well-being of staff and inmates, and they are regularly reminded on the need to practise good personal hygiene and be socially responsible."

The SPS added that all newly admitted inmates are housed separately from the general population and monitored for 14 days, with their temperatures taken twice daily.

Front-line SPS officers are issued personal protection equipment, which includes disposable masks and gloves, for use when they interact with all new admissions and any suspected case of Covid-19 in the inmate population.


The prisons have also implemented compulsory temperature screening for all staff and visitors at all access points into SPS' facilities.

While Singapore's prisons have remained Covid-19-free thus far, concerns have been swirling regarding overseas inmate facilities, with deaths occurring in prisons across the globe.

On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported that a federal inmate who had been serving a sentence for a drug conviction at a low-security facility in Oakdale, Louisiana, died on Saturday from the virus.

This was not the first death or Covid-19 case to have occurred in prison facilities in the US.

The Guardian in Britain also reported the first such death from within a prison in the UK on March 26.

The British publication reported: "An 84-year-old sex offender was confirmed as the first British inmate to die after contracting coronavirus, with another 19 prisoners infected across 10 prisons."

Closer to home, on Sunday, a prison in Thailand saw dozens of prisoners breaking furniture and smashing windows during a riot on Sunday sparked by fears of a Covid-19 outbreak in the facility.

According to news agency Agence France-Presse, at least two prisoners in Thailand have been infected with the virus.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.