Concerns over coronavirus at overcrowded at Zomba prison

Inmates at Zomba Prison have expressed concern that coronavirus could easily spread at the prison due to overcrowding, lack of soap for hand washing and lack of kits to test new prisoners for COVID-19.

A visit to Zomba Central prison revealed that the facility has six buckets used by thousands of prisoners who wash their hands without soap.

New inmates at the facility are only being screened for HIV and TB, but not COVID-19 a situation that exposes a risk of contracting the disease as they are no testing kits at the prison.

One of the inmates Cydreck Nambazo aged 58 expressed worry over the situation saying the pandemic is likely not to spare them as they fail to comply with the preventive measures.

“We were warned about coronavirus by the prison authorities. They advised us that we must wash hands regularly. My duty is to see that new detainees wash their hands before being admitted to the facility. There are no coronavirus testing kits at the clinic. After they are tested for TB and HIV, the new inmates are admitted and sent to the various blocks,” said Nambazo.

“Further, what we are doing apart from washing hands is avoiding handshakes. This is possible, however, the problem comes in when we go sleeping, we cannot avoid being closer to a friend with the congestion in prison,” he added.

Concurring with Nambazo, Chafika Ndege aged 71 who is also a prisoner at the facility said overcrowding can be a breeding point for the virus and poses a risk of killing many.

In a wake of COVID-19, Malawi leader Peter Mutharika urged citizens of the country to be following hygiene standards, avoiding overcrowded spaces as the virus easily spread with contact.

Mutharika also announced that his administration is to decongest the prisons by releasing prisoners and juveniles who committed petty offences and those who have served a significant portion of their sentences for moderate crimes.

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