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Friday, Sep 30, 2022

Relief for inmates as visits ban eased

Relief for inmates as visits ban eased

More than a dozen people queued outside Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre early yesterday as prisons permitted the resumption of family visits on a limited basis.
That came almost seven weeks after the Correctional Services Department suspended visits since February 5, when the fifth Covid wave hit.

Starting yesterday, inmates are allowed one visit per month, and detainees remanded while awaiting trial can get two visits. One visitor is allowed during each visit, and all visitors should have taken at least one jab. They also have to use the LeaveHomeSafe app and take a rapid antigen Covid test before the visit.

Some visitors said they were happy about the resumption, but hoped that the department can increase the number of visits and allow visitors to bring more items as their loved ones in jail have said that they do not have enough to eat.

A visitor, Lo, said her friend in the prison was infected with Covid-19 and had just completed isolation, so they could only write letters to each other in the past two months. She hoped authorities can increase the number of visits so she can find out how the friend's recovery was proceeding.

Another woman who visited her son is also hoping for more visits.

"I just lost my job so I have more time to visit my son, but the number of visits is limited so I can't help it," she said.

According to the department, the number of cases confirmed with Covid-19 inside correctional institutions has dropped from a daily average of over 140, during the peak between February 28 and March 6, to a daily average of about 75 this week.

It added that a total of about 1,630 inmates have recovered.

The CSD said earlier that the outbreak within correctional institutions has been brought under control via daily rapid antigen testing and the reduction of contact between inmates.

There are arrangments for infected inmates and their close contacts to go under observation and be treated at isolation camps and makeshift hospitals.

However, given that there are still community infections and a risk of a rebound in Covid-19 infections in jails, the department said it is unable to fully resume all social visits for the time being.
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