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Jail outbreak Mass testing at Midlands Prison uncovers six positive Covid cases among staff

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The Midlands Prison

The Midlands Prison

The Midlands Prison

Six out of almost 400 staff members at the Midlands Prison have so far tested positive for Covid 19.

Last week, five inmates in the Co Laois jail had tested positive for Covid-19.

A comprehensive screening of all prisoners in the Midlands Prison has now been carried out and no further positive cases of coronavirus have been returned.

However, a prison source has confirmed that six staff members, out of almost 150 returned samples, have tested positive for the virus.

And prison bosses at the Midlands facility are still awaiting the results from the remaining staff body - believed to be approximately 250 outstanding tests.

Since then every inmate from the 802 prison population was tested as the Irish Prison Service and Midlands Prison management undertook to halt the spread of infection.

But the virus has now spread into the staff population and a comprehensive track and tracing programme has been introduced.

In a statement the Irish Prison Service said it is continuing to work closely with HSE/Public Health and arrangements are being made for a full re-test of all staff and prisoners later this week.

"This will support a return to a more normal prison regime as soon as possible," it said.

The director general of the Irish Prison Service, Caron McCaffrey, yesterday visited the Midlands Prison to meet with management and staff and the National Infection Control Team.

She confirmed that there is a review underway into the operational and infection control arrangements in place at the jail.

And she said that staff at the prison have been training for an outbreak like this for nine months.

“The key aim of our response to Covid-19 has been, in the first instance, to keep Covid-19 out of our prisons.

“But secondly and equally important is to ensure that if an outbreak occurs that we have robust procedures and plans in place to prevent the spread of the virus amongst the prison population.

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“For the past nine months we have been preparing for a possible outbreak of infection and since Friday Midlands Prison staff have expertly implemented this plan and protected the people in their care.

“I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Midlands Prison management including all Healthcare, prison staff, and our National Infection Control Team, the staff representatives and all our service providers for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Service.

“Unfortunately, a number of staff have tested positive and we send them our best wishes and hope that they recover fully and quickly”.

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