Correctional services clarifies massive jump in infections

Correctional Services officials work without masks during Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola's launch of a Covid-19 screening campaign at the Johannesburg Prison, 8 April 2020, and to conduct an inspection at the Johannesburg Management Area to ensure that inmates and officials adhere to the gazetted directions issued to address, prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19 in prisons. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Nxumalo stressed that measures put in place to combat the pandemic were advanced screening procedures, which included assessment of vital signs.

In explaining a sudden jump in the number of infections from 388 on Saturday to 571 on Sunday, department of correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the jump in infection numbers in South African prisons was a result of confirmed positive cases to tests that were taken at an earlier stage.

“It must be noted that on 5 May 2020, a total of 477 inmates were tested in East London. The first batch of results was received on May 11 2020, confirming 103 positive cases, 78 testing negative and 277 results remained outstanding.”

Nxumalo reportedly confirmed a total of 393 prisoners and 178 DCS officials had tested positive for coronavirus. While there were 99 recoveries in the department, there were four confirmed deaths to date.

  • Gauteng reports 16 cases, seven officials with nine inmates
  • Eastern Cape reports the most infections with 414 reported cases, 359 inmates and 55 officials
  • Limpopo reported two cases (two officials)
  • Western Cape reported 134 cases (109 officials, 25 inmates, two deaths)
  • Northern Cape has two cases (two officials)
  • Free State reports one case of an official
  • KwaZulu-Natal reported one case of an official

Nxumalo stressed that measures put in place to combat the pandemic were advanced screening procedures, which included assessment of vital signs. There were at least 1,087 collected specimens from inmates on 16 May. This was advised by a medical advisory panel to the department.

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