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Oct 2, 2020

Five Prison Guards Test Positive for COVID-19

The Belize Central Prison has recorded five cases of COVID-19 after a prison guard began displaying symptoms a week and a half ago while on vacation at home in northern Belize.  Following the positive results of his test, a contact tracing exercise was conducted and it has been determined that from a batch of thirty samples, four returned positive for the novel coronavirus.  While additional results are expected in the days ahead, the prison administration is considering a complete lockdown of the facility.  This evening, News Five spoke by phone with C.E.O. Virgilio Murillo of the Kolbe Foundation.

 

On the Phone: Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O., Kolbe Foundation

“We had one of our prison guards who lives up north who had come off shift on the fifteenth, his last day of work was September fifteenth.  That’s a little over two weeks ago and whilst he was at home, he began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 so he went and he got swabbed on the twenty-second.  The test came back positive for COVID-19 on September twenty-eighth, so as a result of that we got into contact tracing mode and we started to find out who all he may have been in contact with while he worked up September fifteenth.  So we went after all those guards and other people whom he may have been in contact with and as a result of that we came up with thirty names of fellow staff members, guards that is, and we did swabbing of them and we sent it off to the lab and four of the thirty tests that we have done so far came back positive for COVID-19.  What I can say is that it would appear that they are asymptomatic because so far the four guys are not displaying any symptoms at all, any flu or dry coughs or that kind of thing.  So that is the situation that we have right now.  There is still one test pending from the thirty.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Can you tell me whether this individual had any contact with the inmate population that would pose any kind of threat to those prisoners?”

 

On the Phone: Virgilio Murillo

“Well inevitably yes, because, you know, like I’ve always said, in prison it’s hard to social distance and the nature of our work is that we have to supervise prisoners, they have to search prisoners, they have to escort prisoners and inevitably he had contact with some of the buildings.  So we plan to do some more contact tracing on Monday and we’re going to see how that goes, and that will include inmates as well from the buildings he had visited or worked in at the time when he worked his shift.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now I know you guys have put in place various protocols to try to ensure and mitigate the spread of coronavirus behind prison walls.  Are there any additional measures that are being looked at in light of this new development?”

 

On the Phone: Virgilio Murillo

“Well I am certainly contemplating putting the prison on full lockdown, but I want to do those contact tracing come Monday and then we want to see what other results show up, especially if there would be any prisoner that would be infected.  I’m hoping that is not the case.  One of the things I want to point out here is that the fourth person, the four guards that tested positive in today’s results, they came from varying districts.  One is all the way from Punta Gorda, the other one is all the way in Corozal, one is from San Ignacio and the other one is Guinea Grass.  So this thing has us very baffled because of the space of time or the period of time that has elapsed before these guys were tested and really not showing any symptoms at all.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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