Commissioner of Prisons, Dennis Pulchan.

A video showing inmates of the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) being moved to a cordoned-off area of the facility is now in the hands of the acting Commissioner of Prisons, Dennis Pulchan who has expressed concern that it was “illegally transmitted.”However, he confirmed the authenticity of the video and said it showed inmates who were identified as primary and secondary contacts of those who had tested positive for COVID-19. He said at the time they were being taken from their cells to a cordoned-off area to be monitored to see if they display signs of the virus.

Pulchan said medical officials are expected in the prison to do testing for COVID-19.Over the weekend 18 prisoners from the MSP tested positive for the coronavirus and relocated to the Claxton Bay Correctional Facility for quarantine.“The Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service advises that the Maximum Security Prison is under temporary lockdown after 18 inmates returned positive results for COVID-19.”The prisoners, who complained about feeling unwell were placed before the prisons medical officer who recommended testing as per procedure.

They were tested on Thursday, November 5 and returned positive results the following day,” Pulchan said.“They were immediately relocated to the Claxton Bay Correctional Facility, our official COVID-19 treatment centre, and contact tracing was initiated.”He said the affected inmates are being observed and monitored daily and welfare officers have been assigned to update their next of kin.

 “Containment measures have continued with a scheduled testing of inmates identified as contacts to the positive cases, daily sanitization exercises, thermal scanning of both staff and inmates, mandatory wearing of masks, utilization of full personal protection equipment in areas identified as hot zones, limited movement or transfer of prisoners and enforcement of advisories for members of staff to desist from attending work and seek medical attention at the nearest health facility if feeling unwell,” PulchanTo date, there have been  57 positive cases in the nation’s prisons, with 15 making full recoveries so far.“Tasked with the management of over 4,000 inmates, we continue to work assiduously and under the guidance of the expert medical personnel of the Ministry of Health,” Pulchan said.

On the issue of the video circulating on social media, Pulchan said: “I do have my concerns and I do hope to find the person who would have illegally transmitted that particular video.“With regards to mobiles if I get 100 today, I will get 100 tomorrow . . . We are grappling with this because it does have a negative impact because shots are being called against officers from inmates via the mobiles and I am doing the best I can in dealing with this issue.”

Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat