Covid-19 outbreak team reactivated at one of Portlaoise's jails

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Covid-19 continues to spread in Irish jails

A Covid-19 outbreak team has had to be reconvened at the Midlands Prison due to re-emergence of the virus in recent in the Portlaoise jail according to the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

The Service has also revealed that the number of inmates catching the virus continues to rise across Ireland's prison population with just under 20 reported in one day this week.

In its latest update issued on January 14, the IPS said that the total number of prisoners in Irish jails that have tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 445 - up from 428 the previous day.

The service continues to warn that, given the current level of prevalence of the virus in the community the Irish Prison Service now faces an unprecedented challenge in continuing to keep prisoners safe from infection.

The Service has managed 12 Covid-19 outbreaks since November 2021, of which, 9 have been successfully stood down.

A statement said staff are managing three active outbreaks of Covid-19 in Cloverhill, Midlands and Limerick prisons. It said staff and prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19.

"The Irish Prison Service can confirm a total of six prisoners from B Division in Midlands Prison tested positive for Covid-19. The Outbreak Control Team has been reconvened and the B Division is operating on a restricted regime until mass testing is complete," said a statement.

A total of 27 prisoners from C Division in Portlaoise Prison tested positive for Covid-19. A second round of testing was completed and no further positive prisoners were detected. The Outbreak was stood down on January 10 at the high security jail but the IPS says management continue to implement strict infection control measures and restore the C Division to a normal prison regime.

The Service says it is aware of the importance of visits to prisoners and their families however, due to the widespread community transmission of Covid 19 all physical (family) visits to prisons are suspended for a period of 14 days from Monday 10th January.

It added that all prisoners will continue to have access to video visits and will be entitled to receive one family video visit per week. Where there is an active outbreak of Covid-19, a restricted regime is implemented until mass testing is complete.

The Service says Cloverhill, Midlands and Limerick Outbreak Control Teams and prison management have implemented additional infection control measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to the wider prison population.

A statment said the service is working closely with Public Health, HSE with regard to the management of the current outbreaks including testing arrangements for staff and prisoners if required. At all points, Outbreak Control Teams (OCT) are guided by advice from local Public Health clinicians and meetings with Public Health are convened at regular intervals throughout the course of each outbreak.

A total of 11 inmates in the C Division and the Female Unit in Limerick Prison have tested positive for Covid-19. An Outbreak Control Team has been established, the C Division and the Female Unit is operating on a restricted regime until mass testing of staff and prisoners is complete.

Three prisoner from B Division in Cloverhill Prison has tested positive for Covid-19. An Outbreak Control Team has been established, the B Division is operating on a restricted regime until mass testing is complete.

In Mountjoy Prison seven prisoners from Progression Unit have tested positive for Covid-19. An Outbreak Control Team has been established, the Progression Unit and D Division is operating on a restricted regime until mass testing is complete.

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