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mass testing Eight prisoners in three different Irish jails are battling Covid-19

All staff and prisoners in Wheatfield Prison in west Dublin are today undergoing their third round of testing.

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Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

There are currently eight prisoners battling coronavirus in the Irish prison system in three different jails, according to the latest data provided to the Sunday World.

Six of these infected inmates are in Wheatfield Prison in west Dublin where all staff and prisoners are undergoing their third round of testing today after 11 confirmed cases were discovered in which five prisoners have recovered.

There is one positive case in Mountjoy today after a mini-outbreak led to three prisoners getting the potentially deadly virus and there is also one positive case in Portlaoise Prison after two prisoners who had Covid 19 in the Co Laois facility have now overcome the disease.

“The Irish Prison Service can confirm the total number of prisoners tested positive for Covid-19 from March 2020 to 20th January 2021 is 51. Twenty six are prison based transmission and twenty five are community transmission,” a Prison Service spokesman said.

The spokesman explained that mass testing for all staff and prisoners is ongoing in Cloverhill Prison and no prisoners to date have tested positive for Covid-19.

“The Dochas Centre and Loughan House have completed their mass testing and have returned to a normal regime and the situation will continue to be carefully monitored by local management,” he said in a statement.

Earlier this month, it emerged that nine prisoners had tested positive at the Loughan House open prison in Co Cavan with the majority of these being prisoners who had returned to the facility after getting temporary release over the Christmas period but the situation is now under control.

“Outbreak Control Teams (OCT) continue to oversee the appropriate actions to be taken to mitigate against further possible spread of the disease within the prisons,” the Irish Prison Service say.

“The Service is working closely with Public Health in the HSE with regard to the management of the current outbreaks including making arrangements for the mass testing of prisoners and staff in all locations.

“Arrangements are being made for the second round of mass testing of prisoners and staff in Portlaoise and Mountjoy Prisons.

"A third round of testing is ongoing for the staff in Wheatfield Prison.

“To help prevent the spread of infection a more restricted regime has been introduced in both prisons which may impact on access to video visits and phone calls in the short terms for prisoners in precautionary isolation however we are working to ensure that we can continue to facilitate family contact as far as possible,” the spokesman added.

The Irish Prison Service have a Q &A document on their website for information for friends and family of prisoners in relation to Covid outbreaks in Irish jails.

In Cork Prison, around 13 staff are out on Covid-19 leave, either having tested positive or as a close contact including one prison officer who has been hospitalised.

The Irish Prison Service can not confirm when prisons will be included in the vaccine rollout.

The Service’s response to the health pandemic has been widely praised and led to them submitting a paper to the World Health Organization as a model of best practice for keeping Covid-19 out of prisons.

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