The Leuven Central prison and parts of the Brussels prisons in Vorst and Sint-Gillis have to go into lockdown, due to infections with the corona virus among the detainees. That confirms the prison system. However, many prisoners have already been vaccinated: ‘Eighteen have even received a third shot’.
The medical service of the Leuven Central prison recently discovered a number of internal infections, which resulted in a lockdown. “The measure was taken to control an internal outbreak and to prevent additional spread of the virus,” said spokeswoman Kathleen Van De Vijver. “As soon as the situation has been mapped out and under control based on the test results, the lockdown will be lifted.”
There will be a general testing among the detainees on Monday. The open regime, whereby the detainees are allowed to walk around outside their cells during the day, will be lifted in Leuven. Inmates must remain in their cells, and they cannot work in prison. For the time being, no new detainees are allowed to enter the prison or leave for another prison. Visits are also not possible for the time being.
Also in the prisons of Vorst and Sint-Gillis, one wing always has to be in lockdown, after a number of detainees there had tested positive.
Many inmates in Belgian prisons have now been vaccinated. “The number is comparable to the situation in a free society,” according to the prison system. During the first vaccination campaign in June and July, 7,472 inmates received their first dose in prison, and 6,731 subsequently received a second shot – several have since been released and had to get their second shot outside.
Since the beginning of August, another 1,466 inmates have received a first or second shot. In addition, 18 older detainees even received a third injection. That happened in a special ward for older detainees in Merksplas prison. ‘We will continue to focus on vaccinating and raising awareness. Anyone who wishes can receive a vaccine’, says Van De Vijver.