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Cops identify COVID-19 quarantine point for prisoners in St James

THE St James police have designated the Barnett Street Police Station as the quarantine point for individuals taken into custody in the parish.

Head of the Community Safety and Security Branch, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Yvonne Whyte-Powell said that as part of the division’s infection prevention and control measures, individuals arrested and charged with a criminal offence are mandated to quarantine for 14 days at Barnett Street before being transferred to the general holding area at the Freeport lock-up.

“Barnett Street is your first point of entry when you are being incarcerated. What we do is we put you at Barnett Street for the period that we are supposed to observe the quarantine, which is somewhere between 14 to 18 days.

“At that point in time, if you are not displaying any signs [of the novel coronavirus], then you are taken to Freeport where you have a larger prison population,” she pointed out.

DSP Whyte-Powell was addressing a COVID-19 virtual forum hosted by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry last Thursday.

She said that the police division has been taking the threat of the virus seriously, noting that strict adherence to the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) COVID-19 prevention plan resulted in the early detection and containment of positive cases at the Freeport station.

“COVID has been impacting Jamaica from last year March and it is almost another year before we had any sort of incident here, but because of extreme vigilance, the problem was picked up quickly. We worked with the Ministry of Health [and Wellness] and it has been contained,” she noted.

DSP Whyte-Powell informed that a plan to deal with any possible surge in cases at police lock-ups in the parish has been in place since March 2020.

“There is a surge plan for the JCF…since the start of the pandemic, a programme was quickly crafted. The plan involves other divisions, so if St James becomes overwhelmed, there are plans in place so that persons can be moved to other parishes because areas have been identified in all the parishes for COVID isolation for persons that are incarcerated,” she said.

In the meantime, DSP Whyte-Powell said up to February 16, the police had arrested and charged 312 individuals for breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act.

— JIS

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