Irish Prison Service has announced new cases
Up to 1,000 prisoners and staff at Ireland's biggest jail complex in Laois will have been tested by the end of the week as authorities attempt to quench an Covid-19 outbreak at the jail which is now in double figures.
The Irish Prison Service confirmed on Thursday, November 11 that following mass testing and lockdown of two divisions in the Midlands Prison Portlaoise, 16 positive cases have been returned from the prisoner population.
All are understood to have been confirmed in the G wing but due to the number of positive tests, prison authorities and HSE public health teams have decided to test all staff and inmates in the jail.
The service confirmed that two additional prisoner cases were confirmed on November 11. The first cases during the outbreak emerged on November 4. Staff have also contracted the virus but the IPS cannot disclose details.
"The Irish Prison Service is working closely with HSE Public Health with regard to the management of the current outbreak and are in agreement with the mass testing of prisoners on the A,B,C and D divisions in Midlands Prison," said a statement.
Families who had hoped to visit have been informed that to control the outbreak the entire jail is now in lockdown.
"To help prevent the further spread of infection a more restricted regime has been introduced 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 the IPS.
The Service added that 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.
There are nearly 820 prisoners jailed at the Midlands Prison - a 93% occupancy rate.
Laois has one of the highest incidences of the virus in recent weeks with the county recording a level of more than 1,000 per 100,000 population.
The IPS also confirmed on November 11 that it is managing an outbreak of Covid-19 in Cloverhill Prison in Dublin. It said that, to date, a significant number of symptomatic prisoners have undergone testing and are awaiting test results. The Irish Prison Service confirm that one prisoner in the B Division has tested positive for Covid-19.
The IPS has won international recognition for its management of the pandemic.
Nearly nine in ten prisoners in the country's jails have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 recent figures have revealed.
Some 89% of the more than 3,800 inmates in 12 prisons in the state have been inoculated.
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