MASS testing for Covid-19 among prisoners and prison officers at Limerick Prison is underway after two cases of the virus were found in the jail.
One male prisoner and one female prisoner have tested positive for the virus at the jail located on Mulgrave Street, Limerick City, confirmed the Irish Prison Service (IPS).
All Circuit Court jury trials listed to go ahead today at the adjacent Limerick Courts Complex were adjourned until January 24, in line with a national directive by the President of the High Court, and the appearances of accused persons before the District Court took place via video-link.
The two cases notified inside Limerick Prison were confirmed this morning forcing lockdowns in C Division and in the prison’s female unit. Unaffected areas are operating as normal and contact tracing and testing is being conducted.
The outbreak has been isolated to two landings at the jail, however all physical visits at the prison have been temporarily suspended until January 24, as part of a national directive announced by the IPS earlier, due to the widespread transmission of the virus in the community.
The IPS said it was facing “an unprecedented challenge” in trying to keep prisoners “safe” from Covid-19, due to the widespread transmission of the virus in the community.
408 prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Given the current level of prevalence of the virus in the community the Irish Prison Service now faces an unprecedented challenge in continuing to keep prisoners safe from infection. The Prison Service has managed 12 Covid-19 outbreaks within a prison setting since November 2021, of which nine have been successfully stood down,” an IPS statement read.
It comes following confirmation from the IPS that it was managing “three active outbreaks of Covid-19 in Cloverhill, Midlands and Limerick Prisons” and confirmed that “a number of staff and prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19”.
“The Irish Prison Service is aware of the importance of visits to prisoners and their families however, due to the widespread community transmission of Covid 19 all physical (family) visits to prisons will be suspended for a period of 14 days from Monday 10th January,” it said.
“All prisoners will continue to have access to video visits and will be entitled to receive one family video visit per week. Where there is an active outbreak of Covid-19, a restricted regime is implemented until mass testing is complete.”
Outbreak Control Teams and prison management have implemented “additional infection control measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to the wider prison population” at Cloverhill, Midlands and Limerick Prisons.
The IPS added it was “working closely with Public Health, HSE with regard to the management of the current outbreaks, including testing arrangements for staff and prisoners if required”.
“At all points, Outbreak Control Teams (OCT) are guided by advice from local Public Health clinicians and meetings with Public Health are convened at regular intervals throughout the course of each outbreak.”
Sixteen prisoners have tested positive at Midlands Prison; there are two confirmed cases including one male and one female prisoner at Limerick Prison; one confirmed case of a prisoner in Cloverhill Prison.