Makeshift ward at Penang prison as cases spike to 141

The Prisons Department has ordered EMCO lockdown measures at Penang prison. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: A low-risk Covid-19 treatment centre has been set up within Penang Prison where a spike of 141 Covid-19 cases was recorded today, a seven-fold increase in a day.

The cases are classified as the Remand Cluster, which began with an 85-year-old inmate at the remand centre who was found dead on Oct 5.

There are a total of 2,306 inmates at the prison. No prison staff has tested positive, an official was reported as saying this afternoon.

State health director Dr Asmayani Khalib said affected inmates are warded at a makeshift treatment centre set up at two buildings within the prison complex, except for three serious cases which are now warded at the nearby Penang Hospital.

“We have mobilised officers to be there at the prison to monitor them,” she said in a press conference with Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Chow had earlier called for an enhanced movement control order or EMCO to be in force in the prison and a staff quarters facing the prison, which houses 318 people.

When reporters said EMCO measures were already in place, prison director Roslan Mohamed said the EMCO was self-enforced on the orders of the commissioner-general of prisons.

Chow said Penang’s request for an official EMCO was a fresh request to be considered by the National Security Council tomorrow.

Since March, there had been 172 Covid-19 cases in Penang, of whom 285 had recovered while three died. The latest numbers bring the total to 313.