(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – Prison officers are calling for immediate medical intervention to stop the spread of a “scabies like” disease among inmates at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca.
There are concerns about ten inmates in the MSP’s foreign division who have developed a serious rash. Prisoners of different nationalities are housed in that section of the facility—60 inmates in Division K and more than 20 in Division A.
A prison officer, who spoke to the T&T Guardian on condition of anonymity, said the majority of the inmates are Venezuelan nationals and there are concerns that the rash might be infectious and spread to other sections of the prison, as well as to staff.
He said some of the inmates have also developed a “nasty cold and coughing.”
“The inmates are lending each other clothes. They come into the prison with the clothes . . . vest and pants, or whatever and the local inmates try to reach out by giving them clothes and they all share the clothes given to them,” the officer said.
“We are calling for quarantine, treatment and sanitisation to be done now for the safety of the wider population of inmates and for us, as officers, who leave here on a daily basis to go home to our families,” he said.
Prisons Commissioner Gerard Wilson confirmed that during routine rounds yesterday morning the prisons’ infirmary officer observed six Spanish-speaking inmates with a rash. He said as a precautionary measure, the inmates have been placed in the Infirmary until they can be attended to by the prison medical officer.
“The doctor will determine whether it’s scabies, shingles or some other dermatological complaint,” Wilson said, adding that the affected inmates share items of clothing.
President of the Prison Officers Association (POA) Ceron Richards said in the past there have been outbreaks of various diseases among the prison population, including tuberculosis, chicken pox and scabies, so the current situation is “not out of the ordinary.”
However, he is concerned about a shortage of toiletries and cleaning products to sanitise the facility.
“The prisons have not been getting the adequate amount of toiletries and cleaning supplies of late. All that will create additional problems in the prison service,” he said.