THE Zambia Correctional Services (ZCS) says a good percentage of inmates and officers are vaccinated against COVID-19.
In an interview, Zambia Correctional Service head of public relations Doreen Ngoma said the correctional facilities only recorded some deaths during the second wave but since then, they had not had any deaths from the virus.
“COVID-19, it’s everywhere else. We have been following the same guidelines though [for] ourselves, [it] is kind of a unique situation because of the number of people that we have behind there. But we still try to enforce the same rules; washing of hands, wearing masks and all those things. And so far, I think we have been able to manage. The disease, we don’t have at the moment. In this wave, we don’t have any cases. We try to follow, as far as possible, the guidelines of Covid. We have medical personnel at almost all our centers, especially now. We had employed a number of medical personnel who graduated in March. Even before that we had medical personnel and we worked very closely with either the provincial medical offices or the district medical offices. We are always working with them so that we make sure that our inmates are protected from any disease,” she said.
“At a time when Covid was really high, we did restrict visitation so that we don’t have the disease coming to our facilities. But so far we have managed. We only had death [cases] in the second wave but since then we have not had any deaths from Covid, because we have managed to restrict visitation and movement of inmates and general sanitation of the place. Encouraging inmates to wear masks [and] to try as much as possible to keep social distance. A good percentage of our people were vaccinated including officers. The restrictions are still on to some extent but thankfully because a good number, more than 50, 60 percent of our inmates were vaccinated, they were actually coming forward [to get] vaccinated.”
She said during the outset of the pandemic, taskforces were set up in each facility to sensitise inmates and officers on the COVID-19 guidelines.
“We have health personnel, we also have provincial or district health officers. Those people have come in, even among the inmates. What we did at the beginning when Covid came was we set up taskforces in each and every facility, they would look at Covid issues. So we had both officers and inmates who were sensitising to all inmates and officers on the guidelines of Covid and also updating everyone on any new development of Covid. We even published materials in different languages and we distributed them to all the facilities so that inmates can read for themselves and follow the guidelines,” said Ngoma.