Irish Prison Service update on Covid-19 outbreak at jail in Portlaoise following up to 1,000 tests

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

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Midlands Prison Portlaoise

A further case of Covid-19 has been confirmed among the prisoner population in Portlaoise following the second round of mass testing at Midlands Prison.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) has confirmed that 11 positive cases have now been identified amongst inmates since the first cases were detected last week. An unspecified number of staff cases have also been confirmed.  

"The IPS can confirm the number in custody for the Midlands Prison 22 February 2021, is 826. As of, today’s date, the total number of prisoners that have tested positive for Covid-19 is 11," it said.

Of the prisoners who have contracted the virus, nine were orison based transmissions with two Community Transmission (new committals).

"Following the confirmation of positive prisoner cases the Irish Prison Service and Midland Prison management have implemented a comprehensive contingency plan to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to the wider prison population. This major logistical operation includes arrangements for the second round of mass testing this week for all prisoners and staff in Midlands and the introduction of a restricted regime across the prison," said a statement.

The service said it is continuing to work closely with HSE/Public Health and arrangements are being made with the HSE for the re-testing of all prisoners and staff, in order to provide an assured response to the current outbreak in Midlands Prison. It added that this will support a return to a more normal prison regime as soon as possible.

The IPS said Midlands Prison Outbreak Control Team (OCT) continues to engage with Prison Management to oversee appropriate actions to mitigate against the further possible spread of the virus within the prison.

The IPS confirmed last Saturday, February 20 that 10 prisoners had tested positive. This followed confirmation on Wednesday, February 17 that there had been five confirmed cases among inmates. On February 12 the IPS confirmed that some staff had tested positive at the jail.

It is the largest outbreak in the Irish prison system since the start of the pandemic. In October 2020, five prisoners tested positive.