The Cayman Islands Prison Service has closed the doors of Northward and Fairbanks to the public and restricted movement internally after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday night.
In a statement issued Thursday morning, the Prison Service announced the restrictions and confirmed the positive test result.
“The employee, who was tested at Northward Prison after reporting feeling unwell during shift, is now isolating,” the statement said.
“Public Health had begun its usual contact tracing process, including requiring any person who came in direct contact with the staff member yesterday to isolate,” the statement said.
This announcement follows Wednesday night’s COVID-19 update which pegged Cayman’s locally transmitted COVID-19 cases at 17, with a total of 10 people related to the George Town Primary School incident.
Director of Prisons Steven Barrett, through the statement, said his organisation had already begun implementing preventive measures following the recent news of community transmission of COVID-19.
As it relates to Thursday’s announcement, the Prison Service says, “activities have been restricted to reduce people movement across the prison estates. Furthermore prison officials are contacting external partners to cancel services delivered by them until further notice”.
While visits are being cancelled from [Thursday], arrangements will be made for inmates to utilise virtual visits facilities to to ensure that they can maintain contact with their families.
“While visits are being cancelled from [Thursday], arrangements will be made for inmates to utilise virtual visits facilities to to ensure that they can maintain contact with their families,” it said. The statement said, the objective of these restrictions is to minimise the potential for the virus to spread within the prison population.
The Prison Service, it added, had this week engaged the Public Health Department to undertake a comprehensive testing regime for staff and inmates at both prisons.
Northward and Fairbanks prisons are currently being prepared for a further treatment of Nanotize, as part of the Prison Service’s deep cleaning programme, this in addition to mandating mask-wearing by staff, and enhancing existing provisions for hand sanitising and cleaning which are already in place.
“This treatment will coat every surface in the prison with a protective layer of nano-technology that protects against mould and coronavirus for up to six months,” the statement added.
Prison staff vaccination stats
61% had a single dose
57% fully vaccinated
Prisoners vaccination stats
56% had a single dose
33% fully vaccinated
Barrett emphasised the Prison Service’s commitment to protecting employees and inmates and ensuring the best possible outcomes for all as he noted that the prison system is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the high number of persons clustered in a small area.
Northward is a COVID-19 vaccination centre, the statement said, adding that sixty one percent of prison staff have had at least a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 57 percent who are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile 56 percent of inmates have had at least a single dose, and 33 percent are fully vaccinated.