GEORGE TOWN: The Health Ministry has been urged to step up safety protocols for inmates and prisons staff nationwide following spikes in Covid-19 cases behind bars.
Gerakan legal bureau chief Datuk Baljit Singh said there was also a need to improve safety measures in public places where the inmates had been taken to, especially the courts and hospitals.
“Have there been any attempts to contact trace the judges, lawyers, court staff, policemen and the public, who have been present at our courts when the prisoners were produced?
“The mere act of sanitising and disinfecting prisons, or moving prisoners to other locations do not suffice at the moment.
“The health authorities must take a firm stand and introduce stringent measures immediately to contain any potential infection which may have occurred when the prisoners were taken to public places,” he said today.
Until yesterday, Tawau Prison logged 77 positive Covid-19 cases involving inmates and 19 involving staff or their family members, while the Alor Star Prison recorded 938 cases among prisoners and 12 among staff or their family members.
At the Penang Prison here, there were seven cases involving inmates while the Kamunting Correctional Centre reported one case involving an inmate and seven cases of staff or their family members.
Meanwhile, the Pokok Sena Prison logged 63 cases involving inmates and one case involving staff while the Kajang Women’s Prison recorded one among the inmates.
Prisons Department director-general Zulkifli Omar had said that they had taken several drastic measures to address the rising number of Covid-19 cases among inmates.
Baljit, who is also Gerakan vice-president, said the lives of family members of those who came in contact or were in the same vicinity of the prisoners should also be considered immediately.
He added that if the situation warrants it, the closure of courts where the prisoners had been taken to should be carried out immediately. All staff members should be tested and quarantined.
“All lives are equally precious. We can no longer afford to be reactive to a health situation, which is beginning to get out of hand.
“Let us all stop the finger-pointing and move quickly together in stemming this pandemic.”