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05 Jul 2022

Prison service facing "unprecedented challenge" following outbreaks of Covid-19

Prison service facing "unprecedented challenge" following outbreaks of Covid-19

The outbreaks are in Cloverhill prison, Mountjoy and the Midlands prison.

The Irish prison service has said it's facing "an unprecedented challenge" in trying to manage three outbreaks of Covid-19 involving at least 63 cases, as the first death of a prisoner with the virus was confirmed this week.

The outbreaks are in Cloverhill prison, Mountjoy and the Midlands prison while Outbreak Control Teams (OCT) have been established in each location to oversee and agree on appropriate actions taken to mitigate against further spread of the virus.

A spokesperson for the prison service has said it had been "hugely successful" in protecting the prisoners from the virus in the earlier stages of the pandemic but said due to the current level of prevalence of the virus in the community it now faces an unprecedented challenge in keeping the prisoners safe.

Although the prison service said it has introduced a more "restricted regime" to help prevent further infection, this may impact on access to phone calls and video visits in the short term for prisoners in precautionary isolation but it says it is working to ensure that it can continue to facilitate family contact as much as possible.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has called for an acceleration of the booster rollout in prisons while also expressing concern about restricted regimes as a result of outbreaks of the virus and potential isolation of prisoners from their families.

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