Prisons capacity enhanced as virus claims three more lives

The Health ministry in partnership with county governments has begun enhancing capacity in prisons to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The ministry has identified prisons as one of the high-risk areas after some inmates in Industrial Area Prison tested positive.

“We are concerned about the prison environment. It is one of those high-risk areas that we have identified and are watching carefully and conducting targeted testing,” Health CAS Rashid Aman said yesterday.

So far, the Prisons department health facilities have been provided with personal protective equipment, sampling materials and their staff have been equally trained in sampling some of the inmates.

“We are collaborating with both the Prisons Department and the county authorities to monitor and test these prisoners and then take the necessary measures to ensure there is no spread in those environments,” Aman said.

As Kenya starts its third month since the confirmation of the first positive case on March 13, the number of positive cases in the country has reached 715 after 15 more cases were confirmed by the ministry yesterday.

The 15 were from 978 samples tested in a day. The total number of tests conducted since the first case is 33,916.

Eight more people were discharged from hospital, bringing the total number of patients who have successfully undergone treatment and recovered to 259.

The new cases were aged between one and 62, comprising 10 men and five women. Seven were from Mombasa, three from Migori, two from Wajir, and one each from Nairobi, Machakos and Kiambu.

Three more patients, however, succumbed to the virus, raising the total number of fatalities in the country to 36. The three were in Mombasa, two died at home and one in hospital.

Some 42 inmates have been isolated for coming into contact with two positive cases.

According to data by the Interior ministry, the population in the prisons has gone down from 54,000 after the government released some 7,000 remandees and petty offenders as a measure to curb the spread of the virus through decongestion.

At least 219 prison staffers have been tested since the exercise began last week.

The government said more Kenyans stuck in different parts of the world would be evacuated in the coming weeks. Some 700 Kenyans who were stuck in China and India were evacuated at the weekend.