More inmates and staff at Changi Prison Complex to be tested for Covid-19 as a precaution

Changi Prison Complex consists of two clusters – Cluster A and Cluster B – which contain five institutions each. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More inmates, prison staff and vendors from areas not affected by a recent cluster of coronavirus cases at Changi Prison Complex will be undergoing Covid-19 tests as a precaution, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Friday (May 21).

They are from Changi Prison Complex's Cluster B, as well as from Selarang Park Complex and Institution Tanah Merah 1, said SPS in response to queries from The Straits Times.

The tests are being done despite there being no evidence that the virus has spread beyond those who work at the prison kitchen at Institution A5 in the prison complex's Cluster A, where a Covid-19 cluster surfaced last weekend.

There are presently eight cases in the cluster.

Changi Prison Complex consists of two clusters - Cluster A and Cluster B - which contain five institutions each.

More than 5,000 inmates, staff and partners in Cluster A have already been tested at least once, and will be tested a second time in the coming days, said SPS.

Other than those who worked in Institution A5's kitchen, there has not been any other positive case, it added.

A 41 year-old male inmate who was already quarantined was added to the cluster on Thursday (May 20), said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement.

Five of the eight in the cluster are inmates. Covid-19 positive inmates are quarantined for close monitoring by a medical team at a centre in the Selarang Park Complex.

They were all close contacts of a 39-year-old Chinese national who works for Sats Food Services as a chef at Institution A5's kitchen. The remaining two cases in the cluster are his household contacts.

The latest inmate added to the cluster was placed on quarantine on May 13, the same day the Sats Food Services chef had tested positive.

The inmate was tested that day, and his test result was negative. He developed a runny nose, sore throat, headache and body aches on Wednesday (May 19), and was tested again. The result came back positive that day, said MOH.

Asked how meals are currently being served to those in Institution A5, SPS said meals for inmates from Cluster A are currently being catered by external sources, in line with SPS' business continuity plans. Inmates have their meals in their cells.

Activities in Institution A5, such as family visits, counselling sessions and rehabilitation programmes involving vendors and volunteers, have been suspended as a precautionary measure.

SPS has issued electronic tablets to all inmates, pre-loaded with content such as games, news updates and programmes, to keep them engaged, it said.

Inmates are also provided with reading materials and board games.

Prison officers also conduct patrols to check on inmates who may require further support for their mental well-being, said SPS.

"Inmates in the non-affected prison institutions are gradually resuming their recreational activities, and virtual rehabilitation programmes with staff and vendors/volunteers," it added.

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