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Uganda Prisons Creates Isolation Centres for New Suspects on Remand

Uganda Prison's Service Spokesperson Frank Baine says that the newly constructed Kitalya Min Max Prison in Wakiso will be holding all suspects remanded from Kampala Metropolitan Area at this time. The facility which was built to hold inmates on longer sentences has been empty at the moment and is now seen as a perfect place of isolation.
Kitalya Mini-Max prison

Audio 2

The Uganda Prison Services has created several isolation units where all persons remanded by the courts will be kept as a mitigation plan to prevent the likely transmission of COVID-19 in correctional facilities.  

Frank Baine, the Uganda Prison's Service Spokesperson, notes that although the Judiciary suspended court hearings and appearances for 32 days with effect from March 20, 2020, suspects with serious offenses are still being processed and sent on remand. 

Studies have proved that prisons at times are epicenters for infectious diseases because of the higher background prevalence of infection, the higher levels of risk factors for infection, the unavoidable close contact in often overcrowded, poorly ventilated, and unsanitary facilities, and the poor access to health care services relative to that in community settings. 

Baine says that it’s on the basis of this that they have resolved not to let new ‘clients’ intermingle with the general prison population. He adds that they have decided to set up isolation centres where the remanded suspects will be kept for the moment. 

“We cannot risk having a case of COVID-19 in prison facilities and so we have set up isolation Centres. Suspects in these centers will not get in contact with our general population,” Baine told Uganda Radio Network. 

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Baine says that the newly constructed Kitalya Min Max Prison in Wakiso will be holding all suspects remanded from Kampala Metropolitan Area at this time. The facility which was built to hold inmates on longer sentences has been empty at the moment and is now seen as a perfect place of isolation.  

The high tech correction facility was built with large sized prison wards and 30 cells, all fitted with modern sanitary facilities. It has a fully-fledged medical wing complete with an inpatient section, and isolation rooms for contagious diseases.  

Baine says Kitalya has already received ‘clients’ including 36 Chinese nationals who were on Friday arraigned before Buganda Road Court and charged with illegally operating businesses in Kampala, being in unlawful possession of wildlife protected species, and having suspected stolen property.  

He further adds that other centres have been put up in Mbarara, Kyenjojo, Soroti and Gulu, among other areas. 

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World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control- CDC have issued guidelines on how COVID-19 can be prevented from spreading to prisons arguing them to be on the lookout on Community transmission of the pandemic since it is one of the means through which correctional facilities and detention centers are more likely to start seeing cases inside their walls. 

Although hard-hit countries have since been forced to release several inmates, Uganda is still hesitant to take that direction, in one of the recent National addresses on COVID-19 President Yoweri Museveni noted it was too early to make such a call. However, Uganda Prisons Service has halted routine visits to inmates in its facilities as part of the preventive measures against the Corona Virus.  

The number of confirmed cases in Uganda has been drastically increasing hitting 23 in a space of one week.