Covid-19 infection rate at prisons Portlaoise and other Irish jails revealed in advice to NPHET

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


More restrictions announced for prison visits to prevent spread of Covid-19

Irish Prison Service

No prisoner or prison officer in Portlaoise or any other jail has become critically ill or died from Covid-19 during the pandemic while just over 1% of the prison population contracted the virus.

The findings are contained in new advice from the Health Information and Quality Authority to NPHET on groups that may be more at risk of infection and should be considered in a group for early vaccination. 

HIQA say that documented outbreaks affecting prisoners and prison staff were associated with 149 cases up to 27 February 2021.

It says data from the Irish Prison Service (IPS), indicate a relatively stable occupancy level of approximately 3,800 prisoners; however. The IPS say the cumulative number of prisoners in the system since the beginning of the pandemic was provisionally put at 9,158 individuals up to the end of February. The IPS indicated that 3,761 staff with exposure to prison environments.  Collectively, this provides an estimated population size of 12,919.

HIQA says this population estimate presents an infection rate of 1.2% or 149 cases, of which 2% or 3 cases were hospitalised. No cases admitted to ICU and no associated deaths.

Relative to the general population this infers a crude reproduction rate (R rate) of just of 0.26 for infection.

Measures taken by the IPS have included restrictions and curtailments of visits and lockdowns and mass test and trace operations when the virus has been detected in jails.

Millions of euro have also been invested in PPE and other equipment to keep it out.