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Prison officials say activist Panusaya did not get Covid while behind bars

Maya Taylor

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The Corrections Department says the recently released pro-democracy activist, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, did not contract Covid-19 in prison. The 22 year old protest leader confirmed she was infected earlier this week. She was released from Bangkok’s Central Women’s Correctional Institution on May 6.

The Bangkok Post reports Weerakit Harnpariphan from the Corrections Department as saying Panusaya was in quarantine from April 23 to May 5 and that screening was being carried out at the prison.

“Ms Panusaya did not go outside the prison or engage in any activities before her release on May 6. 100% active screening was conducted again on May 8, in the zone in which Ms Panusaya was quarantined. No inmate who stayed with her had Covid-19.”

The Corrections Department have been scrambling to contain the fallout from revelations of clusters in their largest prisons. On Thursday 2,835 inmates from 2 Bangkok prisons – Central Women’s Correctional Institution and Bangkok Remand Prison – were confirmed as having being infected with Covid-19. Today a further 183 infections from inmates was confirmed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Weerakit adds that fellow activist Panupong Jadnok, aka, “Mike”, who has also tested positive for the virus and remains behind bars, has been admitted to the Corrections Hospital. All infected detainees are now hospitalised. The Corrections Department says some family members have been contacted, in line with inmates’ wishes.

The department plans to carry out weekly Covid-19 testing, with the option of setting up field hospitals within prison compounds in the event that there is a high number of infections detected. Prisons with large outbreaks are implementing “seal and bubble” measures similar to those seen at migrant worker camps during the Samut Sakhon outbreak earlier this year. This will involve a reduction in new inmate numbers, testing inmates before and after court hearings, or organising court appearances via teleconference.

The Bangkok Post reports that a number of prison officials have been told to work from home and limit contact with family members. Officials will also be tested every 2 weeks.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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