NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Department of Corrections has begun precautionary measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the Commissioner of Correctional Services Charles Murphy, who yesterday said they are dealing with the matter as it develops.
The move comes as other facilities and institutions throughout the country implement shutdowns after a 61-year-old Bahamian woman was confirmed as the first positive case of COVID-19 in the country.
The World Health Organization has officially declared the global spread of the respiratory virus a pandemic.
In a general public notice yesterday morning, the institute advised of the immediate suspension of all services and activities until further notice.
Speaking to Eyewitness News, Murphy confirmed this includes visitations, commissary, property collection, church services and all other activities.
“We take the position of the same worldwide, national and international protocol,” he said.
“Where possible, social distancing, sanitize our environment, washing of hands, [and] persons who are displaying symptoms they are to stay at home, officers.
“We will take all the necessary precautions when we have to deal with persons in here, as much as possible.”
At last report, the facility had just over 1,700 inmates.
Asked whether the facility has the capacity to handle the ordeal, given longstanding issues of overcrowding and sanitation, Murphy said: “The position is, hardly anybody, or any organization or country, automatically has the capacity. They have to deal with it as it comes. And we do our best to mitigate against not only this but every other situation.”
Pressed on whether anything is being put in place for those prisoners, he said: “Of course. That is the national and international protocol – sanitize your environment, keep your hands washed at all times.
“…I’m saying to you specifically for the prison. It’s just like if you’re home or in a business place, you do the same thing.”