140 inmates at Lusignan Prison test positive for COVID-19

-Health Ministry, PAHO/WHO protocols in place at all prisons

One hundred and forty inmates at the Lusignan Prison have been diagnosed with COVID-19, following an ongoing screening campaign at the facility. 

Eighty of the affected prisoners have been relocated to a secure location to reduce overcrowding there, Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Robeson Benn has said. 

The Minister made this disclosure while responding to questions from Opposition Members of Parliament, today, in the National Assembly. 

Minister Benn said prison wardens on Saturday took the necessary measures to stop another prison break at Lusignan Prison, which resulted in the death of two inmates. 

He recalled that on Friday, the prisoners became uneasy after hearing of positive cases of COVID-19, and they refused breakfast. Similar actions the following day led to Minister Benn and Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony visiting the facility to address the prisoners’ concerns. 

The prisoners were not receptive to the engagement and attacked the Ministers and wardens. Prison officers were forced to restore order which resulted in shots being fired and two inmates killed and five injured. 

“My understanding is that the final perimeter of the prison was under attack and being besieged along with the prison wardens, and they took the measure necessary to make sure that we don’t have a result of problems we have in the past in relation to the outbreaks of prisons,” Minister Benn said. 

The overcrowding of the prison has been an ongoing issue, particularly since fires destroyed buildings at Lusignan and Georgetown facilities. 

At the time the incident happened, we were expanding an area to the east of the prison to put up tents, bed for further social distancing for those left behind. It was stopped on Saturday and resumed yesterday. I anticipate by tomorrow we will be in a better position to [shift]some of the prisoners who are in the holding bay over to that area and perhaps bring the infected ones back to Lusignan,” Minister Benn said.

The Minister assured the House that measures were being put in place to ensure the safety and security of the prisoners and the public. He added that they were collaborating with the Health Ministry and that all PAHO/WHO measures would be followed at prisons throughout the country.