'Love' the key to prison Covid-19 recoveries

14 September 2020 | Health

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Loving care given to offenders at correctional facilities in Windhoek and Walvis Bay was instrumental in high Covid-19 recovery rates, says Namibia Correctional Service commissioner Raphael Hamunyela.

Hamunyela had announced in August that over 100 offenders at the Windhoek Central Prison had contracted the virus. Providing an update last week, Hamunyela said there were now only 31 active cases while the number of recoveries had risen swiftly to 105.





By yesterday afternoon, Namibia had recorded 9 719 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 101 deaths and 6 543 recoveries, which meant that there were still 3 075 active cases in the country, according to health minister Kalumbi Shangula.

When asked what the secret for the quick recoveries was in prison, Hamunyela replied that it was love.

“All those offenders who tested positive were put on different diets. We also gave them immune boosters and we also gave them love,” Hamunyela said.



Fishrot accused raise concerns

Lawyers representing the Fishrot accused recently voiced their concerns about the potential of their clients contracting Covid-19, with one suffering from hypertension, another from low blood pressure and another from hypertension and type two diabetes. Health officials have warned that these comorbidities increase a person's risk of developing Covid-19 complications.



Prisons have a responsibility

Hamunyela said there was a huge responsibility on prison authorities to ensure inmates' safety at all times.

The health protocols of the World Health Organisation on Covid-19 were also enforced to ensure that offenders do not contract the disease, he said.

“We look at the issue of social distancing where possible and we are doing what is possible. We provide masks, we provide them with soap at all times,” he said.

“Our facilities are compliant with the United Nations standard on correctional facilities. The bed distances are there but Covid-19 is a new thing; it does not mean we do not take precautionary measures,” he said.

Challenges inevitable

Hamunyela admitted that it was hard to provide offenders and correctional officers with hand sanitisers at all times.

“What I know is it's not manageable, not only in Namibia but the world; it is not manageable to give offenders sanitisers all the time. That is why soap and water are there at all times.”

Hamunyela said correctional facilities were not built with Covid-19 in mind.

“Our facilities in Namibia, in Africa … in the world, all the correctional facilities, were not built in conformity with Covid-19,” he said.

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