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Update on COVID-19 Situation (11 November 2021)

  1. The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) adopts a multi-pronged and calibrated approach in managing the current COVID-19 situation, so as to prevent transmission and detect potential cases early.


Preventing Transmission

  1. SPS enforces strict Safe Management Measures such as the wearing of masks, adopting safe distancing, and reminding all inmates and staff to seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell. Inmates with Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) symptoms are promptly isolated. SPS also institutes a 14-day Cohort Segregation for all newly admitted inmates, before they are allowed to join the general inmate population. Areas visited by COVID-19 positive cases are cleaned and disinfected immediately. To lower the risk of virus transmission amongst inmates through their movements within prisons during the current Stabilisation Phase, SPS has temporarily suspended face-to-face visits for inmates since 4 October 2021. Inmates continue to receive tele-visits from their family members and can also communicate with them through electronic letters. SPS will reinstate face-to-face visits for inmates when feasible.
  2. SPS has also put in place additional measures to protect vulnerable groups, such as elderly and medically vulnerable inmates. For instance, they are housed with inmates who have been fully vaccinated, and undergo Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) if they are required to stay in medical wards for prolonged periods.
  3. Vaccination is a key strategy in the management of COVID-19 in prisons. As of 7 November 2021, 99.5% of SPS staff and 90% of the eligible inmate population are fully vaccinated. Since October 2021, the booster vaccination exercise has also commenced for both staff and inmates.


Early Detection of COVID-19 Cases

  1. To detect potential COVID-19 cases early, staff and partners of SPS are required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing. Staff and vendors who come into regular contact with inmates must undergo Antigen Rapid Tests (ARTs) twice weekly, while volunteers and external personnel entering prisons on an ad-hoc basis are required to have a negative ART result before they enter prisons. As an added precaution, staff and personnel working in prison institutions with active COVID-19 cases are required to undergo daily ARTs. SPS also conducts wastewater testing as an additional level of surveillance for early detection of potential COVID-19 cases.


Previous COVID-19 Clusters in SPS

  1. The first COVID-19 cluster in SPS was reported on 16 May 2021 involving a SATS chef working at a prison kitchen at Institution A5 of the Changi Prison Complex. 13 inmates who were in close contact with the chef subsequently tested positive for the virus. With containment measures such as RRT, prompt isolation of COVID-19 positive cases and scaling back of non-essential activities, the COVID-19 cluster at Institution A5 has since closed. The chef and inmates have fully recovered.
  2. On 31 July 2021, a COVID-19 cluster was declared at Institution S2 of Selarang Park Complex. The cluster emerged when six supervisees tested positive for COVID-19 during RRT.[1] This COVID-19 cluster has since been closed, and all the supervisees have fully recovered.
  3. On 24 August 2021, a COVID-19 cluster emerged at Selarang Halfway House involving 16 supervisees. The cases were detected after a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test was conducted on a supervisee who felt unwell. All his close contacts were subsequently tested, and some of them tested positive. This COVID-19 cluster has since been closed, and all the supervisees have fully recovered.
  4. Following the closure of these clusters, there have been other COVID-19 cases within prisons from time to time. This will continue to be the case, given the cases in the community.


Latest COVID-19 Statistics

  1. As of 10 November 2021, 169 inmates, 54 supervisees and 9 SPS staff are currently COVID-19 positive, in different stages of recovery. While no staff or inmates are currently hospitalised for COVID-19, three supervisees are currently hospitalised for COVID-19 as they are symptomatic. Their condition is currently stable. The 169 inmates comprise newly admitted inmates who were infected before entering prisons and were detected by SPS during Cohort Segregation, inmates who reported sick with ARI symptoms in the prisons, as well as 116 inmates, including Prisoners Awaiting Capital Punishment (PACPs), from Institution A1 who tested positive from 6 November 2021 to 10 November 2021. SPS has temporarily placed Institution A1 on lock down and enhanced the testing regime for staff, inmates, and personnel such as vendors and volunteers entering prisons. Face-to-face visits for PACPs have been temporarily suspended, to minimise movements in the prison and lower the risk of virus transmission.[2] These visits will be replaced with phone calls instead. The families of PACPs have been informed. SPS will reinstate the face-to-face visits when the situation has stabilised. In addition, SPS has temporarily suspended all counselling sessions, and will arrange for virtual counselling sessions when the situation has stabilised.


Moving Forward

  1. SPS is committed to ensuring the safe and secure custody of our inmates, as well as meeting their rehabilitation needs. As we move towards managing COVID-19 in an endemic stage, SPS will continue to refine and calibrate these measures based on the evolving situation in the community, so that inmates can continue their rehabilitation and recreational activities meaningfully and safely.


Singapore Prison Service
11 November 2021


[1] Supervisees refer to inmates who are serving the tail-end of their sentences in the community on Community-based Programmes. These supervisees work in a variety of sectors, including essential services such as logistics, food and beverage and cleaning. Their working hours are dependent on the nature of their work. Most of the supervisees have been gainfully employed during the pandemic and have contributed to the nation’s efforts in managing COVID-19.

[2] While SPS has suspended face-to-face visits for all other inmates since 4 October 2021, special concession was granted for such visits to be facilitated for PACPs in view of their unique circumstances.