Staff and prisoners to be tested at Midlands Prison following Covid-19 outbreak

Five prisoners in the jail, next to Portlaoise Prison, have tested positive for the virus

‘All other prisoners and staff in the Midlands Prison are being tested as a precaution,’ the Irish Prison Service said. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

‘All other prisoners and staff in the Midlands Prison are being tested as a precaution,’ the Irish Prison Service said. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

An outbreak of Covid-19 has emerged in the Midlands Prison, Co Laois, with the Irish Prison Service now having made plans to test almost 1,000 staff and prisoners at the jail for the virus.

To date some five prisoners in the jail, which is adjacent to Portlaoise Prison, have tested positive for the virus, the prison service confirmed on Friday evening.

“The prisoners have been isolated in line with infection control procedures,” it added of the five inmates who tested positive.

“The positive cases relate to one area of the prison and all prisoners accommodated in this area and staff who are assigned to this area have been tested.”

The prison service was also “working closely” with the public health authorities and the HSE was undertaking contact tracing.

“All other prisoners and staff in the Midlands Prison are being tested as a precaution,” the service said of the jail, which holds about 500 prisoners and has about 400 staff.

“An outbreak control team meeting has taken place to review the cases and agree the appropriate actions to be taken to mitigate against further possible spread of the disease within the prison,” the service said.

Since the start of the pandemic the Irish Prison Service has proven successful in limiting the spread of Covid-19 in jails nationwide. Some prisoners were released early to create space to better manage the prison population. Visits were also suspended and newly committed prisoners were segregated and observed to screen for the virus being brought in jails, among other measures.