File picture: Inmates at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca.

Some 222 inmates and 12 prison officers at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca were yesterday swabbed to be testing for COVID-19.

The results are expected to start coming in today or tomorrow.

Acting Prison Commissioner Dennis Pulchan said he was happy that the exercise was efficient enough to be contained in just one day and commended the inmates for their cooperation.

He also commended the medical staff for their swift actions in “making it happen.”

The inmates swabbed were the ones who were identified as primary and secondary contacts. They were identified through tracing of those who would have come in contact with the 18 inmates who tested positive for the COVID-19 over last weekend.

“We are putting infrastructure in place already. I have spoken to doctors from Mount Hope and we are putting things in place for when they come to start the process. The inmates who will be swabbed are still in the cordoned off area in a separate division. We are still in lockdown mode,” Pulchan said.

Over the last weekend, 18 prisoners from the MSP were tested positive and relocated to the Claxton Bay Correctional Facility for quarantine.

The Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service has since advised that the MSP is under temporary lockdown and the prisoners, who complained about feeling unwell, were placed before the Prisons Medical Officer who recommended testing as per procedure.

They were tested on Thursday November 5 and returned positive results the following day.

“They were immediately relocated to the Claxton Bay Correctional Facility, our official covid-19 treatment centre, and contact tracing was initiated,” Pulchan said.

Pulchan noted the concerns of relatives and friends and is assuring all that the affected persons are being observed and monitored daily and Welfare Officers have been assigned to update persons identified as ‘next of kin.

“Containment measures have continued with a scheduled testing of inmates identified as contacts to the positive cases, daily sanitization exercises, thermal scanning of both staff and inmates, mandatory wearing of masks, utilization of full personal protection equipment in areas identified as hot zones, limited movement or transfer of prisoners and enforcement of advisories for members of staff to desist from attending work and seek medical attention at the nearest health facility if feeling unwell.”

Pulchan said as of Monday, the Prison Service has recorded a total of 57 positive cases throughout the nation’s prisons, with 15 making full recoveries thus far.