The Malta Independent 30 June 2016, Thursday

Updated (2): Prisoner dies of chest infection brought about by influenza, PN reacts

Thursday, 28 January 2016, 10:17 Last update: about 6 months ago

A prisoner who was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital with a severe chest infection has died from ‘respiratory complications brought on by the influenza virus,’ sources have confirmed.

The prisoner was one of two inmates who were taken to hospital after a flu outbreak which has affected at least eight others. The second man who was admitted to hospital is in stable condition.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Chris Fearne said yesterday that the government had offered free vaccination to everyone, including those at the prisons. The service is still available.

Mr Fearne said personnel from Public Health Department yesterday visited the prisons and found some ten inmates to be suffering from influenza A, which was the strain of influenza prevalent in the community at this time of the year.

Anti-virals were administered and some of the inmates were put in isolation to avoid spread. The influenza jab was again offered to prisoners who had not taken it and all cases are being followed up.

PN reacts

The Nationalist Party, in a statement, said that Minister Carmelo Abela must stop hiding what is taking place in the prison and inform the public on infectious diseases that are hitting prisoners.

It is clear, deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami and shadow minister Claudette Buttigieg said, that minister Abela deeived the people yesterday when he said that it was not true that two prisoners were suffering from overdose, when he knew that two inmates were suffering from influenza or other health issues. It was only after the Opposition insisted in parliament on more information that the minister gave in.

Media reports say that a number of prisoners are suffering from influenza or other infectious diseases, a situation that led to the death of an inmate, the PN said. In the light of this situation, the PN is insisting that the government explains what the real situation is at the prison. The government's silence is alarming for prisoners, their families and the staff working at the prison.

Government rebuts PN's claims

In a statement late this evening, the government said that it was not true that information was being witheld on the case. It said that when reports surfaced of a possible overdose, it immedately issued a statement to say that the hospitalisations were due to health problems suffered by inmates.

It also said that two people had been admitted to the Intesive Therapy Unit and that a number of inmates were suffering from the flu. The government went on to say that a total of 109 inmates accepted to have the flu jab.

The government said it would be easy to slam the previous government for the state in which the CCF was found, but maturity should prevail and the issue should not be politicised. 

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