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Africa News of Saturday, 10 July 2021

Source: monitor.co.ug

Panic as 15 Ugandan prison inmates test positive for Coronavirus

A vendor sleeps in a Ugandan market because of COVID-19 restrictions A vendor sleeps in a Ugandan market because of COVID-19 restrictions

Panic has gripped inmates and staff at Uganda's Mugoye Prison in Kalangala District after 15 inmates tested positive for Covid-19.

This situation has also worried residents around the prison since they always interact with the inmates.

Mr Jimmy Opio, a resident in the prison’s neighbourhood, said he fears of contracting Covid-19 since some of the inmates who tested positive were working on his farm a few days ago.

“I think we also need to do Covid-19 tests as soon as possible,” Mr Opio said during an interview on Friday morning.

Mr Samuel Mugisha, a health worker at Kalangala Health Centre IV said they decided to start conducting Covid-19 tests across all prisons within the district to curb further infections.

“We have so far carried out Covid-19 tests in two prison facilities, but results from Mugoye Prison are shocking. Out of the 70 inmates tested, 15 are positive and that’s is a big number”

Mr Mugisha has asked the district Covid-19 task force to lobby for enough testing kits and protective gears to facilitate the rapid testing exercise before the situation worsens.

“We need a special budget for Covid-19 treatment. No medical supplies have been delivered to Kalangala to treat Covid-19 since the second wave was announced,” Mr Mugisha disclosed.

Ms Rachel Nasuuna the health inspector in Mugoye Sub County, said the new cases in the facility are occasioned by congestion.

“It is an open secret that all our prison facilities are congested which makes it difficult to observe social distancing. We shall continue to register more cases unless we first address that issue,” she said.

Currently, Mugoye Prison which is the biggest in Kalangala- has over 200 inmates who sleep in two small cubicles.

Five months after Covid-19 had just hit the country last year, the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, said the prison authorities were going to liaise with the Judiciary to see how they can remain with only hard core criminals in prisons and release other inmates.

This was after 153 Amuru Prison inmates and a prison staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

A 2013 report by the International Centre for Prison Studies revealed that Uganda ranks ninth among the top 10 countries with overcrowded cells.

Uganda prisons has over 38,000 inmates contrary to the recommended 15,000 and as such- the most congested in the East African region.