31 December 2020 - NW659
Breytenbach, Adv G to ask the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
(1)(a) What measures have been put in place at each of the correctional facilities administered by his department to (i) isolate detainees showing symptoms of being infected with the coronavirus, (ii) isolate detainees who have tested positive for infection with the coronavirus, (iii) identify and isolate contacts of detainees or staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus, (iv) assist members of the prison population to practice regular hand-washing and other hygiene practices recommended by the World Health Organisation, (v) encourage social distancing and (vi) test for infection and (b) in each case (i) what are the full relevant details and (ii) from what date were the specified measures implemented; (2) what number of (a) employees at the Department of Correctional Services and (b) detainees under the supervision of his department have been tested for the coronavirus to date?
(a) What measures have been put in place at each of the correctional facilities administered by his department to:
(i) isolate detainees showing symptoms of being infected with the coronavirus,
On 14 March 2020, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Preparedness, Detection and Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) of the Department of Correctional Services were approved and circulated to all regions for implementation. Since the lockdown, 10 035 Remand Detainees (RDs) have been admitted to Correctional Centres nationally. All RDs are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and those showing symptoms of being infected with the Coronavirus are quarantined from the other detainees for 14 days and monitored on a daily basis. A swab is collected for testing by the NICD; monitored on a daily basis in isolation area whilst awaiting the results.
(ii) isolate detainees who have tested positive for infection with the coronavirus, Detainees who test positive for COVID-19 are categorised by the health care professional as mild, moderate and severe according to the COVID-19 categories. However, the following procedures are implemented:
- Once the positive results are received, the detainees are moved from quarantine to isolation;
- A medical practitioner at the Department of Health designated Hospital will be engaged to determine the need for the detainee to be treated in the department or at the designated hospital;
- Detainees with mild and moderate symptoms will be treated at a designated treating site in the department whereas those with severe symptoms will be admitted at the Provincial Designated Hospital;
- The isolated detainees are monitored and treated symptomatically by the health care professionals;
- The Department will inform the relevant Health District and the Provincial Communicable Disease Control Directorate for support in conducting contact tracing;
- The notification of the COVID-19 positive case will be as per Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) prescripts;
- The Department of Health links the relevant Health District office to the centre for further monitoring.
- Remand detainees with co-morbidities, (i.e above 60, diabetics, HIV positives, TB patients, Asthmatics, cancer patient, pregnant females), are identified and are classified as per risk factors and monitoring is intensified.
- Isolated/Quarantine inmates are retested for COVID-19 before exiting out of quarantine.
- Psychological, Spiritual services care are provided to Confirmed inmates.
(iii) Identify and isolate contacts of detainees or staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus,
- The detainees who test positive are interviewed by health care professionals to identify the possible contacts;
- The staff utilises admission registers into the cell where the positive inmate was accommodated to identify possible contacts of the detainee;
- Those detainees who shared the same cell with the positive case are identified as possible contacts;
- The contacts are quarantine and monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days; and
- Should the contacts present with symptoms they will also be tested for COVID-19 as per DoH guidelines.
Regarding the officials the following processes are followed:
- All officials with COVID-19 signs and symptoms are identified and referred for testing;
- Presumptive cases are reported and partner Departments are contacted (SAPS, DOH, NICD etc);
- Self-isolation/quarantine forms are acknowledged and signed off by officials who are requested to isolate/quarantine;
- All Confirmed COVID-19 cases of officials and presumptive persons under investigation are self-quarantined (either home or State provided facility);
- Psychological services are provided to confirmed cases; and
- Reintegration is done upon re-test and negative confirmation.
(iv) assist members of the prison population to practice regular hand-washing and other hygiene practices recommended by the World Health Organisation
The Department is dealing with this pandemic by implementing a disaster management plan that is embedded in national government’s adopted approach of ‘prevention, containment/treatment and disaster recovery’. The Department’s Disaster Management Response Plan is designed to prevent, contain, disrupt and mitigate COVID-19 from spreading in the department’s facilities and administrative offices.
Health care professionals disseminate hand hygiene and infection control information through awareness sessions and conduct hand washing campaigns. Each inmate is provided with soap for hand washing purposes; installation of secured hand washing soap and sanitizers is done in most centres. Educational posters on hand wash are placed on all notice boards in all Correctional Facilities.
Security equipment including vehicles are being sanitised and cleaned with the necessary detergents daily before and after utilisation by Correctional Centres and Community Corrections. Scrub down of facilities continues on a daily basis to ensure that areas are scrubbed down at least once a week. Officials have been assigned to sanitise hands of officials, inmates and visitors at all entry points and exit points in Correctional Facilities. Cleaning and enforcement of sanitisation are maintained at the Correctional Centres and Community Corrections especially at the reception, admission areas and living cells.
(v) encourage social distancing
Social distancing is encouraged in all Correctional Facilities and work places by introducing below mentioned measures as a form of promoting social distancing:
- Reduce the number of offenders appearing before the CSPB for placement consideration and CMC. During these sittings social distancing must be adhered to;
- Reduce number of offenders attending group programmes;
- Reduce the number of representatives attending meeting/sessions/training/VC meetings including decreasing meeting times;
- Decreased travelling to and from or within the Management Areas;
- Reduce the movement within management areas between correctional centres;
- Encourage electronic submission of documents where facilities are available;
- Promote increased exercise for offenders in manageable groups;
- Members record on duty at the entrance gate to prevent congestion;
- Minimise congestion in the admissions areas by calling new admission one by one to admission table; and
- Reduced number of inmates in library.
Social distancing for offenders in their cells is a challenge given the limited floor space for each offender in a cell and is further exacerbated by overcrowding ,hence offenders are encouraged to implement good hand hygiene practices.
(vi) test for infection
Naso-pharyngeal or Oro-pharyngeal swabs are collected by health professionals and sent to laboratory.
(b) in each case (i) what are the full relevant details and
In each case the Naso-pharyngeal or Oro-pharyngeal swabs are collected by health professionals and sent to laboratory and the results will determine further management of the detainee per stipulations.
(ii) from what date were the specified measures implemented;
Approved 2020 DCS Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Preparedness, Detection and Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) of the Department of Correctional Services.
(2) what number of (a) employees at the Department of Correctional Services and (b) detainees under the supervision of his department have been tested for the coronavirus to date?
(a) As at 26 April 2020, there are 536 officials who have been refereed to health care services for testing. It is important to highlight that most employees possess medical aids which they utilize for coronavirus testing. (b) To date there are 2 611 inmates that have been tested for coronavirus under the supervision of the Department of Correctional Services.