SINGAPORE – There are 66 inmates with Covid-19 at a quarantine centre in Selarang Park Complex as at Nov 18, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) told The Straits Times on Friday (Nov 19).
In response to queries from ST, SPS said that some inmates across all prison facilities who test positive for the virus are taken to the centre, which began operating in April last year.
SPS said: “In general, asymptomatic inmates who are housed together with other inmates within a shared cell will be sent to the Quarantine Centre.
“SPS does allow inmates who are housed in single cells to remain in their own cells when recovering from Covid-19 as they will not come into contact with other inmates during their quarantine, unlike inmates from non-single cells.”
The decision to transfer inmates who test positive for Covid-19 to the Quarantine Centre – which can house up to 120 inmates – is made in consultation with a prison medical officer, SPS added.
On Nov 11, ST reported that there were 169 inmates with Covid-19. Of that number, 116 were from Institution A1, including inmates on death row.
As these inmates are housed in single-occupancy cells, they can be quarantined within the institution itself, SPS said.
Those moved to the Quarantine Centre are looked after by a healthcare team and prison officers.
The centre does not function as a medical centre, SPS said, adding that Covid-19-positive inmates who require inpatient medical treatment will be referred to the nearest government restructured hospital and are hospitalised under the supervision of SPS.
A prison medical officer will decide whether an inmate needs to be taken to hospital based on his symptoms, age, vaccination status and medical history.
The quarantine centre at Selarang was designed pre-pandemic with the intention of housing those who are convicted by the courts for breaking quarantine orders and may have contracted infectious diseases.
When the pandemic first broke, the centre, which is a standalone, purpose-built facility, was used to house Covid-19-positive inmates away from the main prison population for recovery.
Following the report on the number of inmates with Covid-19 earlier this month, a spokesman from the Ministry of Health (MOH) told ST it has reviewed the SPS’ cluster management measures and assessed them as being appropriate and robust within the secure setting of the prisons.
The spokesman said that Covid-19 cases in prison were not reported as a cluster in MOH’s press releases as they do not come in contact with the community.
The spokesman added: “There is also high vaccination coverage in the prisons, with 99.5 per cent of SPS staff and 90 per cent of the eligible inmate population fully vaccinated. Inmates who are unwell are given the appropriate care, and will be tested for Covid-19 where appropriate.”