About 5,000 inmates, staff to be tested for COVID-19 after cook at Changi Prison tests positive

SINGAPORE (CNA) – About 5,000 inmates, staff and partners at Changi Prison will be tested for COVID-19 over the next few days after a cook working there was confirmed to have the infection.

All inmates’ face-to-face visits and tele-visits will also be replaced by phone calls with effect from May 17 until further notice, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said yesterday.

The cook who is a confirmed case is a contract staff working in the prison kitchen located at Institution A5 in Cluster A of Changi Prison, said SPS. He is employed by SATS Food Services.

The man, known as Case 63160, was reported as an unlinked community case by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday. He is fully vaccinated.

The 39-year-old last reported to work on Wednesday. He felt unwell after work, developing a fever and runny nose, and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic where he received a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19. His test result came back positive the next day.

SPS said it immediately ceased kitchen operations at Institution A5 and started contact tracing among staff and inmates upon confirmation of his infection.

The entrance gate of Changi Prison. PHOTO: CNA

All close contacts of the man have been isolated or placed in quarantine pending issuance of a quarantine order, said the service.

Affected inmates will serve their quarantine orders in prison, isolated from the rest of the inmate population. Staff, vendors and volunteers will serve theirs at MOH’s designated quarantine facility.

As a precautionary measure, activities including family visits, counselling sessions and non-critical hospital appointments have been halted in Institution A5 where the cook worked, said SPS.

All affected areas have also been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

PCR testing has started for all inmates, staff, vendors and volunteers who have been to Institution A5 from Monday to Wednesday. About 1,050 inmates, staff and partners will be tested, said SPS.

The Changi Prison complex comprises two clusters, Cluster A and Cluster B, each of which contains five institutions. Cluster A comprises Institutions A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5.