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Updated | Corradino inmate dies of flu infection, ministry calls for maturity over outbreak

One of two inmates hospitalised for chest infections, reported to have passed away after flu outbreak in Corradino Correctional Facility

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
28 January 2016, 10:44am
In parliament on Wednesday evening, parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne said that 10 inmates were found to have contracted influenza type A virus. He confirmed that one remained in critical condition.
In parliament on Wednesday evening, parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne said that 10 inmates were found to have contracted influenza type A virus. He confirmed that one remained in critical condition.
A prisoner who was admitted into intensive care on Saturday after suffering severe a chest infection, has died.

The prisoner, George Cassar known as 'ix-Xifu', was 58 years of age.

Two Corradino Correctional Facility inmates were hospitalised at 11pm on Saturday, with one of them in critical condition, at Mater Dei's ITU reporting a chest infection due to a flu outbreak inside CCF.

In parliament on Wednesday evening, parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne said that 10 inmates were found to have contracted influenza type A virus. He confirmed that one remained in critical condition.

The flu jab, he added, was offered for free to CCF residents, just as it is offered for free to the citizens. Use of the vaccine is not mandatory.

“As soon as the authorities were informed of the outbreak, the public health deployed medical officials and administered jabs to those who came into close contact with the sick inmates,” Fearne added.

Members of the public health department were convened to discuss the situation inside the correctional facility in Paola, after that a number of inmates were diagnosed to be suffering from influenza.

Specific medical support and advice was provided to prison authorities, including measures on infection control, isolation of people who were sick with flu illness, treatment of people who were sick with antivirals, management of contacts, and vaccination to those who had not previously taken up the flu vaccine.

An eyewitness account who told MaltaToday the two men were suffering from a drug overdose from synthetic cannabinoids that were not detected by police dogs, was denied by the Ministry for Home Affairs.

The inmates, housed in Division 3 at CCF, were said to have been treated in the intensive care unit for “chest pains”.

The ministry told MaltaToday that in both cases prison authorities called for an ambulance when the men’s health condition deteriorated.  “The health authorities were alerted to the two cases admitted to ITU on 26 January,” the spokesperson added.

PN reaction

In a statement, the PN said that home affairs minister Carmelo Abela had to provide a clear picture of the situation inside CCF, and inform the public of any infectious sickness amongst inmates.

Shadow home affairs minister Beppe Fenech Adami accused Abela of deceiving the public by first denying reports of an overdose but not explaining that there was a flu outbreak inside the CCF. "The press has reported that a substantial number of prisoners have been affected by the flu or other sicknesses, a situation that led to one inmate's death. We insist that the governmnet immediately explains the situation inside CCF as a matter of public interest. This silence is a concern for prisoners, their relatives, and CCF employees and wardens."

In reply, the home affairs ministry said it had instantly provided all necessary confirmations and details on the press reports and the flu outbreak. "It is simple enough to remind the Opposition in what state it left the CCF. But delicate matters like these require maturity not partisanship and mudslinging."

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.