COVID-19 Infections in Prisons Across Thailand Continue to Rise

COVID-19 in Jails

New COVID-19 infections in prisons across the country continued to rise, with up to 1,408 new cases recorded yesterday, while the cumulative number rose to 11,670, according to the Department of Corrections.

These 11,670 cases have been recorded in 13 prisons, said Sutthi Suthiwong, deputy director-general of the department.

Of the 1,408 new cases recorded yesterday, 50 were in Chiang Mai central prison, 245 in the Central Women’s Correctional Institute, 159 in Klongprem Central Prison, 277 in Thonburi Remand Prison, seven in Chachoengsao provincial prison, 342 in Nonthaburi provincial prison, and 328 in Bang Kwang Central Prison.

A total of 35 prison officers also tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, he said.

All those infected were being treated in hospital, he said.

Every prison is carrying out swab tests on all its inmates, who are also getting a lung X-ray. Infected prisoners are being sorted and grouped according to the severity of their symptoms, Mr Suthiwong said.

“Prisoners who test negative for COVID-19 will have to repeat the test every week until the outbreak situation subsides,” he said. “Infected prisoners who have fully recovered will still be subject to repeat COVID-19 tests.”

The Justice Ministry has requested that 411 million baht be diverted from the government’s central budget to fund a new field hospital for infected inmates and the purchase of new medical equipment, he said.

All those who have tested positive have already been separated from those who are not infected, although the vast majority of them are asymptomatic, said Aryut Sinthopphan, director-general of the department.

The department also plans to purchase 150,000 Favipiravir pills, an antiviral medication, at a cost of 15 million baht, for use on infected inmates who show no symptoms.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, said the so-called bubble and seal approach will be adopted to lock down all COVID-19 hotspots.