NAIROBI, MARCH 31, 2020 (CISA) -The Kenya Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are working with the Kenya Prison Services to fortify prison facilities across the country from the threat of COVID-19.
In a March 31 press statement, the Kenya Red Cross said that is providing 60,000 pieces of soap that are being delivered to prisons nationwide.
“We are at a critical stage in the response to COVID-19 as the number of those infected continues to rise. Kenya Red Cross has increased its activities especially creating awareness among the public and supporting access to handwashing facilities. We are all aware that people in prisons are some of the most vulnerable among us,” said Dr. Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society.
“We must ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against COVID-19,”she added.
Forty-eight men’s, women’s, and juvenile prisons are being reached by the effort, which includes setting up handwashing stations and providing soap and disinfectant gel as well as health education to inmates about how COVID-19 is spread. Prison staff members are also being trained in COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, and what to do if someone is sick.
“COVID-19 knows no boundaries. If the virus gets inside a prison’s walls, it could be catastrophic. Physical distancing 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 incase a case emerges,” said Olivier Dubois the ICRC’s head of delegation in Kenya.
The ICRC is also working with the medical directorate of the Kenya Prison Services to establish medical protocols for COVID 19 in prisons. This includes infection prevention measures at the entrance of prisons, such as handwashing and temperature checks as well as procedures to be taken it an inmate is sick and needs to be transported to a hospital.
“We want to assure you that we are at the forefront of assessing and preventing the possible spread of this pandemic in our penal facilities countrywide. Some of the measures may cause inconvenience but I assure you they are designed to ensure that we effectively contain the spread of the virus. We continue to appeal to all inmates, staff and their families to take the matter seriously and observe the advisories issued which are all aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic,” said Mr. Wycliffe Ogallo, the Commissioner General of the Kenya Prisons Service.
With family visits suspended due to the virus, the Kenya Red Cross is planning to offer additional phones to prisons increasing the capacity of the phone services in place for the prisoners so that they can stay in touch with their families.