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24 May 2022

Extent of big January Covid-19 outbreak in Laois prison revealed

REVEALED: Number of phones, hooch, drugs and weapons seized at Midlands prisons

REVEALED: Number of phones, hooch, drugs and weapons seized at Midlands prison

Some 20% of Ireland's biggest jail in Portlaoise contracted Covid-19 in January according to figures from the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

While the IPS says the Midlands Prison outbreak is under control, the service continues to warn about the challenge of preventing the virus from infecting prisoners and staff at the jail.

In a statement, the Service can confirmed that 175 prisoners from A, C and E Division in Midlands Prison tested positive for Covid-19 as the Omicron virus peaked. It said an Outbreak Control Team was established. 

The IPS said that by January 31 Public Heath staff reached agreement with the prison's Outbreak Control Team to stand down the outbreak as a result the third round of prisoner testing. Following this decision senior management returned the A & C and the E Division to a normal regime.

The service said the total number of prisoners to test positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic had reached 738 by the end of January 31.

It also cautioned that it continues to face an "unprecedented challenge in continuing to keep prisoners safe from infection" due to the prevalence of the disease in the community.

The IPS says it has managed 14 Covid-19 Outbreaks within a prison setting since November 2021, of which all have been successfully stood down.

Family visits were suspended during January but recommenced by January 24.

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