KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 7): The Prisons Department has been told to come up with a new standard operating procedure (SOP) to curb the spread of COVID-19 among inmates in prisons nationwide, said Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said this was agreed upon at the Special Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) after prisons and detention centres contributed hugely to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases of late.

“The old SOP cannot be used to take detainees to court for prosecution. The need to take the detainees physically and in handcuffs, that is the old SOP. The same with prisons, they (inmates) are all placed too close to one another, that is the old SOP and one of the causes of COVID-19 positive cases in prisons. This can be prevented if there is a new SOP,” he said.

He said this in a virtual press conference held from his home which was streamed live on the Ministry of Defence’s official Facebook page.

Yesterday, of the 691 positive COVID-19 cases, the highest daily tally recorded so far, 394 cases involved prisons in Kedah and seven other cases were from the detention centre in Taiping, Perak.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said police detained 357 individuals for flouting the RMCO yesterday, with 320 people compounded, 35 remanded and two released on bail.

Among the offences were for not wearing face masks (167), not maintaining physical distancing (34), failing to provide the tools or record personal details (123), failing to provide valid travel documents (23), going out of Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) areas without permission (five) and violating quarantine order (five).

Under Ops Benteng, a total of 38 illegal immigrants, two boat skippers and four smugglers were arrested while eight heavy vehicles were seized.