Prisons Embark On Vaccination As 17 Inmates, Officers Succumb To Covid

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

ZIMBABWE Prison Correctional Services (ZPCS) says it has escalated its Covid-19 vaccination programmes among inmates and prison officers to combat the spread of the deadly pandemic which has hit its jails.

The ZPCS health services director Senior Assistant Commissioner Evidence Gaka said the vaccination programme at the Harare Central Prison was to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

He said as of this Thursday 17 deaths among inmates had been reported at ZPCS facilities countrywide.

“A total number of inmates who have been confirmed as Covid-19 is 1 457 and for officers, it is 417 and dependents 557,” he said Thursday during the vaccination programme at the Harare Central Prison.

“Of these figures, the current disease burden as of active cases is we have a total of 206 officers, 427 inmates and 258 dependents and deaths we have got 17, eight officers and seven inmates and two dependents.

“We continue to use the corporate world for PPEs (personal protective equipment). These are the consumables that we use every day and you cannot reuse it, so whilst we have the personal protective equipment today, we need to beef up our supplies.”

“The global challenge we have had has been misinformation that is everywhere including in our establishment that is why we are there to correct that misinformation and share with everyone the correct information.”

“I am so happy and as you can see the uptake is excellent. Many inmates have taken up the vaccine.”

Early this year, the ZPCS released 3 000 prisoners under a presidential amnesty aimed at easing congestion and reducing the threat of Covid-19 in the country’s overcrowded jails. Authorities have also suspended visits to prisons.

The ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu said his prison officers were most affected and this had pushed for the intensification of the vaccination drive.

“We are vaccinating everyone from the inmates, the officers, and their dependents. This is a nationwide exercise,” he said.

He said over 14 000 prisoners and officers had already been vaccinated.