GEORGE TOWN: The seven inmates of the Penang Remand Prison who tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday shared a cell with eight people confirmed infected earlier.
Penang Remand Prison director Mohamed Jusoh Ismail said all were currently being treated at the Penang Hospital and were reported to be stable.
“The seven were in the same cell as the male inmate who died on Oct 5 and seven more who were also positive before. So far, the source of infection is unknown.
“Any inmate or staff who came into close contact with them have been isolated and quarantined,” he was reported as saying by Bernama.
Covid-19 screenings are ongoing and as of Friday, some 1,000 out of the 2,300 inmates in the prison have been screened.
Mohamed Jusoh said all 320 staff at the prison had also undergone Covid-19 screenings with none tested positive so far.
He said at present, new inmates were temporarily placed at a National Service Training Programme camp.
On Friday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that seven more new Covid-19 cases involving the Remand Prison cluster were recorded, bringing the total number to 15.
Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said swab tests for the over 1,000 remand inmates were expected to be completed by today.
“The samples will have to be sent to the lab in Ipoh for testing.
“State Health director Dr Asmayani Khalib will then advise the state government on the latest situation and give us suggestions on the next steps,” he told reporters at an event at the Dua Residensi affordable homes project by Penang Development Corporation (PDC) in Teluk Kumbar yesterday.
“Some results are out and most tested negative. Since the number of inmates is big, we are testing them in phases,” Chow said, adding that Jawi Prison on the mainland was not affected.
Chow hopes that the tests can be completed as soon as possible.
“Early testing is definitely an effective way to contain the numbers and ensure that the situation doesn’t become serious and difficult to treat,” he said.
Penang Remand Prison is the third prison to be hit with the coronavirus after two prisons in Tawau and Alor Setar were affected.