Covid-19 Outbreak in the Women’s Penitentiary of the Federal District, Midwestern Region of Brazil, August to October 2021

Respiratory Diseases
Vaccine preventable diseases

Covid-19 can generate serious problems in the population deprived of liberty (PPL), due to transmissibility, dissemination and potential severity. In Brazil, the high risk of infection is related to prison cell overcrowding, low air circulation and difficulty in prevention. This study aimed to investigate covid-19 cases in PPL in the Women’s Penitentiary in Federal District/Brazil, August-October/2021.
We carried out a cross-sectional study. We defined a confirmed case as: “female inmate with RT-PCR or antigen test detectable for SARS-CoV-2, in the period from August 15 to October 19, 2021”. We conducted a census with female inmates in Block III using a semi-structured questionnaire. For data analysis, we used absolute and relative frequency, central and dispersion tendency measures. We used chi-square test and prevalence ratio. This study complied with ethical principles.
There were 257 inmates in Block III; 86 were confirmed for covid-19. We interviewed 247 (96.1%), of these 81 (32.7%) were positive. Seventy (86.4%) had symptoms and 80 (98.8%) were vaccinated, 78 (97.5%) with Janssen covid-19 vaccine. There were no hospitalizations or deaths. Ten samples were sequenced, all were Delta variant (B.1.617). The overall prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was 33.5% (86/257). Prevalence was 70.0% lower in inmates who worked outside (p<0.001); 40.0% lower in female inmates who wore masks in prison cell (p<0.001); and 90.0% higher in those who participated in classes inside the Penitentiary (p<0.001).
A covid-19 outbreak occurred in Block III of the Penitentiary. The high prevalence for this population may be related to the high transmissibility of Delta variant, to its circulation in Brazil coinciding with the outbreak, as well as the difficulty in adopting preventive actions. We recommended the adoption of measures such as early detection of cases, isolation, quarantine, access to masks, prison release actions and application of the second dose of the Janssen covid-19 vaccine.

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