The CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) with the generous support of the British High Commission, Port of Spain, answered the call to support the prison in Antigua and Barbuda by donating basic sanitation supplies to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sanitation supplies included infrared thermometers, as well as cleaning products such as disinfectant, liquid soap, bleach, hand sanitizers and other necessary supplies. The supplies were received by Lt. Col. Eugene Phillip, Superintendent of Prisons, Antigua and Barbuda, at the V.C Bird International Airport.
Speaking at the airport tarmac, Lt. Col Eugene Phillip noted his appreciation for the supplies and stated that the supplies “go a long way to keep the prison in Antigua COVID free”.
“Getting supplies is a global challenge. CARICOM IMPACS through its partnerships and coordinating structure is assisting Member States to boost efforts to prevent and control the virus, particular in prisons, where an outbreak of the pandemic could have devastating consequences”, said Lt. Col. Michael Jones, Executive Director (Ag), CARICOM IMPACS, who was at the airport to witness the delivery.
The supplies provided are in accordance with guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the prevention and control of the pandemic in prisons (WHO 2020). CARICOM IMPACS’ and the United Kingdom’s efforts to prevent COVID-19 infections in prisons will continue within the next two (2) weeks with donations of similar basic sanitation supplies to eight (8) other CARICOM Member States.
CARICOM IMPACS has already successfully donated supplies to the prisons in Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
The Regional Security System (RSS), is a key partner in this collaborative initiative by providing airlift and logistical support for the distribution of supplies to some CARICOM Member States.
The donation of these supplies will encourage and assist with the accelerated adoption of WHO guidelines for prisons and other places of detention.
In addition to the items provided to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in prisons, on 7 May 2020, CARICOM IMPACS collaborated with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to provide a virtual training session to more than 500 frontline officers on measures to protect themselves in the line of duty. This effort strengthened the capacity of both law enforcement officials and prison staff members to better manage their operations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also complements the ongoing efforts by CARICOM IMPACS, the British High Commission and the RSS to provide basic sanitation support to CARICOM Member States.
In Antigua and Barbuda, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in prisons. However, with an outbreak of COVID-19, the lives of approximately 290 prisoners, 89 prison staff, and the general public will be at risk: potentially placing tremendous strain on the public health system.