ZIMBABWE Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) is conducting peer education training on inmates and officers countrywide on managing Covid-19 in prisons.
Inmates are picked from different cells and receive free training for three days and in turn share the knowledge with the rest of inmates on Covid-19 and other diseases.
The training is conducted by ZPCS health officials and is supported by Unicef and Voluntary Service Organisation (VSO)
In an interview with The Herald at Harare Central Remand Prison last Friday, ZPCS Director Health Services Senior Assistant Commissioner Evidence Gaka said he was hopeful that the knowledge shared will assist in curbing the spread of the virus.
“This training is targeting both inmates and officers,” said Snr Asst Comm Gaka. “They interact on a daily basis. The pandemic can affect them all since they spend time together. We are not training them on Covid-19 only, but also other health conditions like HIV.”
Snr Asst Comm Gaka said ZPCS had not been spared by the deadly pandemic, adding that to date, there were 1 099 confirmed cases and these include inmates, officers and their dependants.
He said there were 187 active cases within the organisation.
“Of the 187 active cases, 97 are from Mutimurefu, in Masvingo and 92 of them are inmates,” said Snr Asst Comm Nyathi.
“We strongly believe that the surge in the number of new admissions as a result of contravening lockdown regulations and curfew contributed significantly. One inmate at Mutimurefu presented symptoms and was tested, the sample returned positive.
“We had to test all close contacts including all the cell mates.
“So that is how we ended up with such a high figure at one prison. But let me say all those who were infected are not critical. So the situation at Mutimurefu is under control and we are managing it.
“My appeal to Zimbabweans is to adhere to all the measures put in place to stop the spread of this virus.
“Those regulations were put in place to control Covid-19. So if one is found breaching the regulations, it means he or she will be increasing the risk and exposure to contract the virus.”
One of the inmates, Tendai Muza, who attended the three-day training commended ZPCS for the initiative, saying it will assist in responding quickly if there was an outbreak in cells.
He appealed to authorities to de-congest prisons to stop the spread of the pandemic.
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