27 prisoners test positive for coronavirus across 14 prisons

Mar 28, 2020 8:15 PM ET

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced on Friday that as of 1pm on Thursday, 27 prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus across 14 prison in the UK.

National chair of the POA, Mark Fairhurst, told The Independent newspaper, “More and more staff are self-isolating, more and more prisoners are showing symptoms of Covid-19, and in order to protect staff, prisoners and the general public, it is now necessary to self-isolate our prisoners to stop the spread.”

He added: “We’ve continued to work normally for as long as we possibly can and I think families of prisoners will be relieved that they’re not at risks and prisoners will be relieved that their loved ones will be safe at home instead of travelling all over the country into packed visit halls and putting themselves at risk.

“In my local prison, HMP Liverpool, prisoners have been asking why they haven’t been locked down yet, so we’re hoping there will be a sensible reaction from prisoners.

“They must realise that this is for their safety and their loved ones.”

The Department of Health announced on Friday, “As of 9am 27 March, a total of 113,777 have been tested, 99,198 negative.”

There are now 14,579 people across the UK with coronavirus. The UK total deaths now stands at 769, up by 168 in 24 hours, up by 31%.

Just nine days ago the UK’s first prisoner tested positive for coronavirus at HMP Manchester, formerly known as Strangeways.

The prison said there are no other staff or prisoners known to have the virus at that time.

A prisoner officer at HMP High Down in London has tested positive for coronavirus and is now self-isolating.

Andrea Albutt, president of the Prison Governors Association said, many prisoners “will die” as coronavirus pandemic deepens.

Prisons across the UK have now banned family visits due to the public health risk to prisoners and prison officers.

With prison officers being able to leave the prison and come back there is an increased risk of this being passed over to prison staff members and prisons.

Many prisons are Victorian, old, rat and cockroach infested, filthy with poorest health conditions, particularly in London, so the “transmission” of coronavirus “will obviously be easier,” then they will become carriers when they are released.

Albutt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “Listening to the government’s specialists, they are saying the mortality rate is below 1% but in the vulnerable groups it is higher.

“Well, in prisons we don’t completely mirror society with our demographic of prisoners so we do have a higher number of people in the vulnerable groups, so they will be ill and there will be deaths.

“We have approximately 85,000 people in our prisons and prisons are overcrowded, so when you have a lot of people in a small area, transmission of disease will obviously be easier.”

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