Fear grips prison

Fear grips prison

MASERU-FEAR gripped the Maseru Central Correctional facility yesterday after an inmate allegedly suffocated to death in a suspected case of Covid-19, thepost can reveal.
Five inmates who were in contact with the deceased in the same cell have now been placed in isolation.

An outbreak of Covid-19 in prisons could decimate inmates at a time when Lesotho’s healthcare system is failing to cope with the pandemic.
Lesotho has seen a surge in deaths and infections that have been blamed on Basotho migrant workers who came home for the Christmas holidays in December.

The Lesotho Correctional Services spokesman, Assistant Superintendent Pheko Ntobane, confirmed the inmate’s death.
A/Supt Ntobane said the police who attended the scene were scared of entering the cell and touching the corpse since they did not have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

A/Supt Ntobane said under normal circumstances police usually come every time an inmate dies in prison to carry out forensic investigations to establish the cause of death before taking the body to the mortuary.
But in this particular instance, this was not done.
“We report to them so that they can establish the cause of death but today they refused,” he said.

He also said the police did not even attempt to get closer to the dead man claiming they did not have adequate PPE to do so.
“They just asked for the names of the deceased and his particulars,” he said.
He added that after giving the police such particulars they then gave the LCS the go-ahead to take him to the mortuary.

A/Supt Ntobane said after calling their own doctor he told them that the person had indeed died.
“We then took him to a mortuary.”
He said there were six inmates in the cell.
“We suspect Covid hence we tested them then isolated them, and they are currently isolated.”

He also said they are awaiting the Covid-19 results for those inmates.
“He was not sick but his roommates said at night he appeared to be having trouble breathing.”
“It is the doctor who will tell us the cause of death, as of now we are just speculating that it could be Covid-19,” he said.
Prior to his death, according to A/Supt Ntobane, the man had no signs of illness.

The other possibility is that prior to his death the man intermingled with a lot of other inmates, not only those he was sharing a cell with.
This means if he died of Covid-19, many other inmates who were in contact with him could also be infected.
Lesotho is currently battling a serious Covid-19 outbreak that has so far killed 134 and infected over 8 000.

Nkheli Liphoto

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