The Corrections Department is ramping up efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak at two prisons in Bangkok, where nearly 3,000 inmates have tested positive for the disease.
Director-general Ayut Sinthopphan said on Thursday there were 1,039 Covid-19 cases at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution and 1,794 more at Bangkok Remand Prison in Lat Yao sub-district of Chatuchak district.
The outbreak at the women’s prison came from new inmates, but at Bangkok Remand Prison was brought in by staff, he said.
Patients showing symptoms were admitted to the Correctional Hospital and asymptomatic patients were placed in field hospitals set up in the compounds of the prisons.
Mr Ayut said the department would take nasal swabs and x-ray the lungs of all inmates as soon as possible. There were about 310,000 inmates nationwide.
He said infected inmates were isolated and received medicine to protect their lungs. Mature and knowledgeable inmates were assigned to take care of infected inmates.
The department was obtaining antiviral medicine from the Public Health Ministry and green chiretta herb extract from Abhaibhubejhr Hospital for infected inmates. All inmates were ordered to wear face masks around the clock and to frequently sanitise and wash their hands.
It would also increase the chlorine level in tap water in prisons, for inmates to better clean their bodies.
The department was organising video conferencing for trials in courts in Bangkok and other provinces.
It had also extended quarantine for new inmates from 14 days to 21 days and tested all of them for Covid-19 immediately on their arrival.
Mr Ayut said the department would complete setting up a laboratory in five days. It would be capable of testing 1,500 inmates a day. The governors of some prisons were arranging for Covid-19 vaccines for inmates.
Dr Weerakit Hanpariphan, deputy director-general, said the department detected thousands of infected inmates in 3-4 days, thanks to the deployment of royally sponsored mobile units for mass Covid-19 testing.
Inmates who tested negative would be observed for 14 days, he said.
He denied the report that recently released rally leader Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul caught Covid-19 in prison. A test on April 23 confirmed that she was free of the disease, he said.
Other detainees in her cell and 1,500 new inmates at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution also tested negative, Dr Weerakit said.
Ms Panusaya was released on May 6, 13 days later.
He confirmed that detained rally leader Panupong Jadnok had caught Covid-19 and had been admitted to the Correctional Hospital.