Dept quarantines correctional centre

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Correctional Services, in consultation with the Department of Health, has declared a ten-day quarantine at the Johannesburg Medium A Correctional Centre.

This comes as 51 cases of measles were confirmed at the facility on Sunday.

From Monday, court appearances including new admissions of remand detainees and public visitations at the centre have been suspended in order to safeguard the public's health and prevent further infections.

The department said that for the period of the quarantine nearly 3000 scheduled appearances in over 27 courts, transportation of thousands of remand detainees by police and scheduled public visits would be adversely affected.

However, arrangements will be made to address the backlog of these appearances and to facilitate family and legal representative visits as soon as the quarantine period is over.

Minister of Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, visited the correctional centre on Monday to observe the rollout of a measles vaccination programme.

A team of health workers from the Department of Health have been deployed to lead a massive vaccination programme to cover over 6000 awaiting trial detainees and nearly 400 officials working at Johannesburg Medium A to prevent the spread of the disease.

The vaccination programme is part of a broader government initiative to protect the public from the outbreak of measles, which had started in Gauteng.

Mapisa-Nqakula said every effort would be taken to ensure that the disease detected at the Johannesburg Medium A was not just contained but eliminated in the interest of public health and safety.

She also appealed to members of the public, partners in government and remand detainees that will be affected by these changes to bear with the department and support the programme in the interest of public health and safety.

"The department regrets the fact that this will affect court processes and visits but it is advised that it is necessary to take these extreme yet precautionary measures in the interest of broader public health and safety," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

By Monday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases had confirmed 195 new measles cases, which added to 1135 confirmed cases, Gauteng is the most affected with 1034.