Of the 2- thousand -419 inmates at Seoul Dongbu Detention Center, 1- thousand -47 of them have been infected with COVID-19 that’s more than 40 percent.
And with the sixth round of mass testing being conducted on Tuesday, the number is only going to rise.
Experts say the authorities should have responded faster, though, as the first round of testing was carried out around three weeks after the first case was reported in late November.
In addition, simple virus prevention measures were neglected in the early stages, such as mask-wearing and monitoring symptoms.
Crucially, given the layout of the facility itself, a mass outbreak was to be expected.

“There are five 12-story buildings with minimum ventilation and no outdoor sports areas. The inmates exercised and ate indoorsexceeding the designated capacity. It was highly likely that a cluster infection was going to occur.”

“The Justice Minister has apologized for the situation, and is working to ease the situation by moving prisoners to other facilities to lower the prison density as well as have inmates keep in contact with their family members.”

The ministry will also announce clear COVID-19 prevention guidelines on Wednesday for all correctional facilities across the nation.
However, the government could face lawsuits due to the violation of basic rights of the prisoners.

“If the government’s ill-intention or negligence is accepted by the courts, it may be an opportunity for detainees to receive compensation.”

Outbreaks at correctional facilities are not uncommon. In the U.S., 40 of the 50 largest cluster outbreaks have occurred in prisons.
This has led to some states designating prisoners as one of their inoculation priorities.
While South Korea has yet to finalize its vaccination priority list, a similar move might be needed to prevent any further outbreaks.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.

Reporter : tkim@arirang.com

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