MEDIA STATEMENT: The Ministry of Health has been working with Prison authories to address an outbreak of chickenpox

Contrary to a statement issued by the PNC/APNU, the Ministry of Health and the Prisons Service have been working together to address an outbreak of chickenpox at the Lusignan Prison. The MOH rejects totally the assertion by the PNC/APNU that the MOH and the medical team that work with Prisons Health have not taken adequate actions to combat the chickenpox outbreak in the Lusignan Prison. 

The MOH assures the prisoners, staff members and their family members that all precautions and all necessary actions are being taken to ensure no further spread of chickenpox occurs at the Lusignan prisons. The chickenpox outbreak that has affected 53 prisoners likely was started by either a prisoner or staff member or a visitor. The medical and surveillance teams are presently conducting contact tracing to identify the source of the infection. 

From the earliest complaints by prisoners about unusual itching, screening were conducted by the medical team assigned to the Lusignan Prisons. Once the first cases were diagnosed with chickenpox, care was taken to separate the affected prisoners from the prisoners with no symptoms.

Those who were diagnosed with chickenpox were treated with medicines (Acylovir and Calamine Lotion). Prisoners and staff were vaccinated by the Varicella-Zoster Virus vaccine. Various measures of sanitization, sterilization and other preventive measures were also implemented.

The medical team will continue to monitor the situation and ensure that the outbreak is halted. At the moment the outbreak appears to be under control.  Measures have been taken also to evaluate staff who might have been exposed. Staff members were also offered vaccination.   

As confirmed in a statement by the Prisons Service, 25 active cases of chickenpox and 28 recovering cases are being treated for chickenpox at the Lusignan Prison.

Given the outbreak of chickenpox at the Lusignan Prisons, the MOH medical teams are conducting surveillance and screening in other prisons. Advisories have been sent to officers-in-charge of other prisons to be alert to possible outbreaks. 

Outbreaks of chickenpox in prisons settings are not rare and have been commonplace in detention centers across the world. Varicella-Zoster virus is one of the most contagious infections among unvaccinated and non-immune populations. Most adults are immunized through childhood exposure to Varicella-Zoster. But for those adults who have not been immunized either through vaccination or through previous infections or exposure, outbreaks in a detention or prison setting is commonplace.

For this reason the Prisons Service and the medical team are constantly monitoring for signs of outbreaks.

It is unfortunate that a major political party can be reckless in creating panic by giving the impression that the outbreak of chickenpox is out of control at the Lusignan Prisons. Furthermore, it is insulting to the prison officers and the medical team that the PNC/APNU would denigrate the strenuous efforts by the relevant staff to stem the spread of an infectious disease in the prisons. It is indicative that this political party has nothing of substance to criticize the Prisons Service, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health.

Far from being uncaring and incompetent, the Government and its institutions continue to provide care for those persons in the care of the Prisons Service.

COVID-19 Notice: Due to the pandemic some consular services will be conducted by registered mail until further notice. Learn more