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06 Dec 2021

BREAKING Covid-19 lockdown at prison complex in Portlaoise as outbreak is confirmed

Prisoners test positive as all staff and inmates being tested on two wings

Midlands Prison Portlaoise.

Midlands Prison Portlaoise.

Two wings of the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise are in lockdown and mass testing is underway after it emerged that two prisoners tested positive at the big Laois jail.

This Irish Prison Service confirmed in a statement on Tuesday, November 9 that two prisoners tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, November 4. The testing of all staff including prisoners located in the E&G Divisions have commenced.

"The Irish Prison Service can confirm there are two positive cases amongst the prisoner population. The Service is working closely with HSE Public Health where both contact tracing and Covid swabbing is ongoing. The positive cases relate to the E and G Divisions and arrangements have now been made for prisoners in that location to be tested," it said.

The IPS added that no additional prisoner cases had been identified up to November 9.

It said the Midlands Prison Outbreak Control Team (OCT) continues to engage with prison management to oversee appropriate actions to mitigate against further possible spread of the disease within the prison.

"To help prevent the further spread of infection a more restricted regime has been introduced for the E and G Divisions which may impact on access to video visits and phone calls in the short term for prisoners in precautionary isolation however we are working to ensure that we can continue to facilitate family contact as far as possible," said a statement.

There were 810 prisoners in the Midlands Prison on the day of the cases being identified. This represents a 93% occupancy.

Health Protection Surveillance Centre figures show that Laois had the fifth worst incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland in the two weeks to midnight November 4 with 784 case identified in the previous fornight.

The IPS confirmed in the week of the outbreak that 89% of prisoners in the prison population have been vaccinated.

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