Kitgum, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kitgum district COVID-19 taskforce committee is seeking to regulate the movement of all prison officials in the community over increasing cases of COVID-19 in prison facilities.
This follows test results released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday indicating a total of 76 inmates at Kitgum government prison tested positive to COVID-19 out of 80 confirmed cases the district registered. The figures are part of the 201 cases of COVID-19 confirmed countrywide by the Health Ministry today.
The inmates were among more than 100 undergoing quarantine at the detention facility that were tested by a team of health officials from the World Health Organization [WHO] on September 1st.
William Komakech, the Resident District Commissioner also the chairperson district COVID-19 taskforce says stringent measures on the movement of prison officials will help to curb further infections to the community from prison.
“What we are witnessing is a situation that has become alarming, this is not the first time inmates have tested positive in large numbers. As taskforce committee, we intend to start regulating the movement of staff into the community to avoid further spread of the virus,” He told URN in an interview.
He says whereas the prisons officials have put in place measures to curtail the spread of the virus through banning visitation and observance of strict standard operation procedures, emphasis on its staff movement should now be prioritized.
Komakech also cautioned the community to continue practising the standard operating procedures that include among others regularly washing hands with soap, wearing a mask and social distance observance.
Frank Baine, Uganda Prisons spokesperson welcomed the move and notes that their staff have been undergoing isolation in instances where inmates tested positive for COVID-19.
“It has been a procedure that every prison they find a case, they put everybody in quarantine, it’s a national procedure not only in Kitgum, but I also don’t find anything strange there,” says Baine.
He says opening Kitgum prison as a quarantine center for inmates in Acholi sub-region has helped as a stopping point in ensuring the contagion doesn’t spread among other inmates who are already serving their sentences. At least some 120 inmates have so far tested positive in quarantine at Kitgum government prisons ever since it was turned into a quarantine center last month.
According to Baine, Amuru district in particular remains one of the areas where most infected inmates are coming from and notes that the situation may not change yet as long as suspects are still being arrested and prosecuted.
Last month, a total of 154 inmates from Amuru prisons in Amuru district tested positive for COVID-19, the largest numbers of positive cases so far registered in Northern Uganda.
Kitgum district has registered a cumulative total of 136 cases of COVID-19 since March this year.