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100+ Covid-19 infections cancels all prison visits in Thailand’s south

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PHOTO: Close quarters in prisons make dangerous conditions for Covid-19 spread

After a small Covid-19 outbreak reported yesterday, the Corrections Department has now cancelled all prison visits from tomorrow through May 5, after testing revealed more than 100 people infected within the prison systems in Narathiwat, a border province in the south of Thailand, and Surat Thani.

Originally 2 prisoners in Narathiwat Central Prison were confirmed to have Covid-19 Friday, with contract tracing and testing revealing 5 inmates and a prison staffer who travelled to Surat Thani also have the virus. Now, further testing revealed that 112 infections have been identified in Narathiwat’s prison.

In order to prevent the spread in the confined spaces of a prison, several actions have been implemented. Aside from suspending all visitors, inmates will not be allowed to participate in any off-site work programs, and incoming prisoners will be tested twice and be isolated for 2 to 3 weeks before being assimilated into the common prison population.

With visitations cancelled, the Corrections Department confirmed they will allow “virtual visits” through the Line app. Plans are being worked out to handle problems like court appearances remotely for any detainees or prisoners affected.

In Surat Thani, after the 5 prisoners and 1 prison official contracted Covid-19, testing was done on 135 inmates who were considered high risk. The preliminary results seem to be all negative. In the far south, the Deputy Governor of Narathiwat reported that medical officials had administered Coronavirus tests to 791 prisoners and prison staff thought to be high risk. Narathiwat Central Prison has a total population of 2,334 inmates and 97 staff members.

Of the 112 positive Covid-19 test results at Narathiwat Central Prison, 87 are male inmates, 23 are prison officials. Also afflicted are 1 female prisoner and 1 nurse. Prisons present some unique challenges and controversies when dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. For example, last week arrested protestors complained of human rights violations when prison guards claimed to be attempting to administer Covid-19 tests at unusual hours.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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