Prisons Department director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar said the COVID-19 transmission among the inmates began when the Tawau Prison in Sabah received a new inmate from Lahad Datu who was tested positive on Sept 2.
“The other cluster was detected in Alor Setar Prison on Sept 29 and the department views seriously the spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases at the prison, which now is the highest among other prisons.
“Therefore, the department has taken all necessary measures to comply with the standard operating procedures set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to treat, quarantine and curb the spread of the disease in all aspects of management of prison inmates and staff in the country,” he said in a statement here today.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in his press conference earlier said Malaysia recorded 691 new cases of COVID-19 today and out of the 688 local cases, 394 were detected from the Tembok Cluster or the Alor Setar Prison.
Zulkifli said to reduce COVID-19 infectivity among inmates and to congestion in prisons, the department had also taken a drastic measure to remove drug-related inmates to several national service training camps which had been gazetted as temporary prisons.
“The total number that can be accommodated by these camps is estimated at between 2,300 and 2,800 inmates,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also called on the public outside the prison community to remain calm as the spread of COVID-19 among the inmates occurred only in the closed and tightly controlled prison areas.
“We also call on the public to have faith in the measures taken by the Prison Department, which are closely supervised by the MOH and other enforcement agencies,” he said.