South Africa: plans under way to remove babies of offenders from East London prison after Covid-19 outbreak

The correctional services department is making plans for babies of two offenders at an East London female prison to be taken to their mothers’ families after cases of Covid-19 at the correctional facility.

There are 26 confirmed coronavirus cases at the East London Correctional Centre. Three are inmates while 23 are officials working at the East London Medium C Centre in Westbank.

The department said it was awaiting results of all other offenders who had been tested. Minister Ronald Lamola visited the centre on Sunday.

“The total number of offenders at the East London Medium C Female Centre is 269 as of the 11th of April 2020. We also have two offenders with babies. Loved ones of the two offenders are willing to take care of the two babies and the process to release the babies under their care is under way,” the department said in a statement.

The department said it would continue with mass testing at the entire East London centre for both offenders and officials.

“The NICD [National Institute for Communicable Diseases] is tracing all those who were in contact with officials who tested positive so that they can self-quarantine until they are tested and cleared.

“We have taken immediate steps to prevent any potential spread of the virus arising from these recorded positive cases,” said the department

The department has identified single cells within the centre which are designated as quarantine and isolation areas.

“There are officials who work in these designated areas and they have been supplied with PPEs which include disposable suits, disposable gowns, shoe covers, N95 masks and eye shields among others”.

There are 20,559 offenders in the Eastern Cape, and a total of 154,437 offenders nationally.

“As DCS, we are committed to ensure that all offenders have access to quality health care. We will also continually work towards protecting offenders from Covid-19, but we equally seek their co-operation so that together we can be safe from this virus,” the department said.