The government has released close to 4000 prisoners and remandees to forestall an outbreak of Covid-19 among prisoners.
A statement issued by the Commissioner General of Prisons (CG), Wycliffe Ogalo said the move was meant to safeguard the prison population in the country.
“With a view of protecting the prison population against the coronavirus disease, the Kenya Prisons Service has released 3,837 prisoners and remandees in consultation with the National Council on the Administration of Justice,” read the statement.
Ogalo said that the decision was taken to actualize the recommended one-meter social distancing directive within prison facilities as part of the progressive review of the strategies put in place to combat the spread of Coronavirus disease.
Covid-19 pandemic continues to surge with the emergence of new cases every day. This has raised mixed reactions among members of the public.
Kenya has recorded more than 1,000 cases to date with the government putting in place various measures to minimize the spread of the disease.
The Kenya Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are working with Kenya Prison Services to beef up safety measures in prison facilities across the country from the threat of Covid-19.
Dr. Asha Mohammed, the Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross Society says that the country is at a critical stage in the response to Covid-19 as the numbers of those infected continue to rise every day.
“Kenya Red Cross has increased its activities especially in creating awareness among the public and supporting access to handwashing facilities,” said Dr, Mohammed.
With family visits suspended, the Kenya Red Cross is also planning to offer additional phones to prisons. This will increase the capacity of the phone services in place for prisoners so that they can stay in touch with their families.
Red Cross has also put in place more than 250,000 handwashing stations in communal places such as markets, a 24-hour counseling hotline (1199), and tracing for those who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, (ICRC) Head of Delegation in Kenya, Olivier Dubois said that the Kenya Red Cross is working with authorities to ensure that Coronavirus disease doesn’t get inside prisons.
“Covid-19 knows no boundaries, if the virus gets inside the prison walls it could be catastrophic given physical distancing in a prison is an impossibility. So we are doing what we can to prevent an outbreak from happening in the first place and working with authorities on measures to be taken if a case emerges,” said Olivier Dubois.
By Anne Mwangemi