Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Prisons Service-UPS has resumed vaccinating inmates at high risk of contracting COVID-19 after receiving another 13,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the Ministry of Health.
Although there are currently 65,190 inmates and 12,000 prison staff, prison spokesperson Frank Baine says they are prioritizing only those aged 50 years and above as well those with pre-existing conditions. At least 6,800 inmates with chronic conditions, which exposes them to severe disease have been identified. UPS had earlier on vaccinated more than 2,000 inmates from the earlier doses received.
According to Baine, the 13,000 doses have been distributed to the 260 prison facilities across the country purposely to vaccinate high-risk inmates and prison warders. Uganda Prisons have so far registered 1,915 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic broke out in Uganda in March 2020.
“The cumulative COVID-19 cases we have registered in all our 260 prisons include, 1,719 prisoners, 127 prisons staff and 68 relatives of prisons staff. We currently have only 95 active cases,” Baine said.
At least three inmates, one prison officer and a relative have succumbed to the virus. “After receiving the new vaccines, we are now vaccinating staff and those people supposed to receive their second dose. We shall continue fighting this pandemic,” Baine added.
Last month, Baine express worry about the increasing COVID-19 positive cases among inmates. It came after Uganda Prisons registered over 130 positive COVID-19 cases within six days. However, it was later established that most of the new cases were new remand inmates, most sent to prison for flouting preventive measures.
More than 2,300 people were charged and remanded in the second lockdown. These included people who were found boozing in bars, those smuggling passengers from one district to another despite a ban on inter-district movement and those arrested for flouting curfew time. Fortunately, UPS identified the positive COVID-19 cases while the inmates were still in isolation.
According to Baine, the new remand inmates and prisoners are not allowed to mingle with the old inmates. The new inmates are locked up in isolation centres in Kitalya, Jinja, Mbarara and Gulu. 3,587 out of the 65,190 inmates in prisons are on remand while the remaining 30,009 are convicts.