Six officers in Limerick Prison test positive for Covid-19

Six officers in Limerick Prison test positive for Covid-19

Six prison officers in Limerick Prison have tested positive for Covid-19. Picture: Dan Linehan

Six prison officers in Limerick Prison have tested positive for Covid-19, but no more inmates have contracted the virus.

Two batches of mass testing have been conducted on the 235 or so prisoners in the jail after one inmate in the general prison population was confirmed as having Covid-19.

Authorities also believe they have put a lid on the virus in Midlands Prison, with just one additional case among inmates and no further cases among staff following an initial outbreak affecting five prisoners and 11 officers.

Mass testing

The Prison Service conducted a mass testing at Limerick on November 6 after a prisoner in the general population – in the D Division – was confirmed as having Covid-19.

Tests were organised by the HSE in the community for prison officers.

No further inmates tested positive in the first batch of mass testing. In line with procedures, a further test was carried out a week later, on November 12. This too found no additional prisoners had contracted the virus.

To date, six staff are understood to have tested positive. Not all tests are completed and that number may increase.

Limerick Prison had a previous, and separate, Covid-19 case, but this related to a prisoner who had just been committed to the jail from the courts, and quarantined as standard for 14 days.

Midlands Prison 

Meanwhile, authorities in the Midlands Prison believe they have “stopped the spread” of the virus among both prisoners and staff.

A mass testing was conducted on October 30 after an outbreak of the virus among five inmates in the prison was confirmed.

That test did not identify any further inmates with the virus, but it did confirm that 11 prison officers had contracted it.

All the prisoners were placed in quarantine and any close contacts isolated.

A second mass testing was conducted on November 5 and this found that one additional prisoner had Covid-19, but no additional staff members.

The initial five cases in the Midlands were the first confirmed incidents in the general prison population.

In a statement tonight, the Irish Prison Service said: "The outbreak in the Midlands Prison has been successfully contained. The mass testing of all prisoners and staff in the prison has been completed. As a result, the Irish Prison service has not been informed of any further confirmed cases. 

"The number of prisoners who tested positive for Covid remains at 6. The Irish Prison Service are engaging with the HSE regarding a small number of outstanding staff results. The winding-down of the Outbreak Control Team and the commencement to a more normal regime is in progress from the November 11, 2020."

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