Malaysia has recorded a total of 1126 active cases of Covid-19 in prisons nationwide. Recorded cases involve prisoners and staff.
The Covid-19 transmission happened when Tawau Prison received a new inmate, according to Prisons Department director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar. The new inmate from Lahad Datu tested positive on October 2.
Meanwhile, he added that Alor Setar Prison was another Covid-19 cluster detected on September 29. The serious surge in the number of positive cases at the prison is now the highest among other prisons.
Zulkifli said in a statement that the department had taken all measures to comply with the standard operating procedures. The measures include treatment and quarantine to curb the spread of the virus among prison inmates and staff nationwide.
In a press conference earlier, Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reported 691 new active cases. Out of the 691 cases, 394 cases were from the Tembok Cluster or the Alor Setar Prison.
Following that, Zulkifli said the department had relocated drug-related inmates to reduce the virus spread among inmates. The department sent drug-related inmates to several training camps. The camps will act as temporary prisons.
The estimated number of inmates that the camp can accommodate is between 2300 and 2800.
Also, Zulkifli advised the public outside of prisons remained calm as the surge occurred only in closed and tightly controlled prison areas.
He later added, “We also call on the public to have faith in the Prison Department that has taken the measures.” “The MOH and other enforcement agencies are closely supervising the prisons. ”
Releases of some prisoners to curb COVID-19 spread
The Prisons Department will release inmates with licence (ROL) to reduce crowding in prisons in an announcement. The action will help prevent further COVID-19 infections.
Zulkifli said that many new cases involved inmates were from guarded prison areas.
The department will release inmates with minor offends with sentence of one-year imprisonment or less. However, the release is only for inmates of less than three months left to serve.
In the Prisons Department’s statistics as on October 5, it states a total number of 11,018 inmates that are eligible for ROL.
To be released inmates must meet the strict criteria and also pass the COVID-19 screenings. The health ministry will carry out the screenings for the inmates.
Zulkifli said that inmates under Section 15(1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act would be transferred to the National Service Training Programme camps. Also, the camps will temporarily serve as prisons.
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