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Central Prison cautiously celebrates “COVID-free” status

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Belize Central Prison

Belize Central Prison

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020. 7:34 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Two months after first going on lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 behind its walls, the Kolbe Foundation Central Prison at Hattieville is one of the very few places in Belize that is currently COVID-free.
CEO of Kolbe Foundation Virgilio Murrillo said 90 cases were initially found of 186 tests conducted, prompting the lockdown, which he said was carried out “with absolutely no regrets” on his part. The final fifteen positive cases were cleared on Monday.

The prison moved from “preventive” to mitigating mode, implementing now-common safety measures such as hand hygiene, the wearing of face masks, temperature checks, and so on, and those continue. While it was ever “wishful thinking” to suggest that the virus could be kept out of the prison, Kolbe was no different from any other part of Belize, and those who visit, whether as inmates or to see them, will not be spared from the protocol.
Murillo revealed that much of his staff hail from Belize’s epicenter of COVID-19, the Orange Walk District, and so it was a challenge to keep the numbers down.

Many of the prison’s cases were fortunately asymptomatic and that none of the inmates required hospitalization. The prison will now return to preventive mode with the hope that they have put mitigative mode behind them. Prisoners are maintaining contact with their families via telephone and the prison is working on a means of “virtual meetings” to supplement face-to-face ones.

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