Huge Covid outbreak at HMP Dovegate as 74 inmates and prison staff test positive

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A jail is the centre of a large coronavirus outbreak with 74 inmates and members of staff testing positive so far.

Serco, the private firm that runs Dovegate prison near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, did not confirm how many of the positive cases were staff.

But the firm, which is contracted the Government, insists all measures are being taken to control the spread.

It is not know how many prisoners are in the prison but it has a capacity of 1,110 inmates.

Staffordshire County Council was notified of the cases at the category B prison on Monday.

Dovegate prison is near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

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Prison director Clare Pearson told StaffordshireLive : "Over recent days the covid infection rate for both staff and prisoners in our establishment has followed the trend in the community and has increased.

"The safety of everyone in the prison is our absolute priority and we are following all the Public Health England, Government and Prison Service guidance and we are working closely with national and local health officials.

"We are optimistic that the measures we are taking will help bring this infection to a halt over the next few weeks.

"In the meantime we applaud our amazing team of key workers and the men in our care, for working together for everyone's safety at HMP Dovegate."

The jail is privately run by Serco

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Covid safety measures at the jail include the following:

  • All prisoners arriving in the prison are being tested at reception
  • All employees are being tested weekly
  • All employees must wear a mask when in the prison
  • All prisoners must wear a mask when out of their cells
  • Serco is providing isolation and "cohorting" areas to ensure inmates "do not move and spread infection"
  • There are "rigorous cleaning schedules"
  • There is a "comprehensive suite of safe systems of work" and risk assessments staff can refer to

Coronavirus is sweeping through the prison

The outbreak comes after the covid infection rate in the patch where the jail is located almost doubled in three days.

On January 10, the Government-defined ward, where HMP Dovegate is based, had 38 cases – or 435.6 in every 100,000 residents.

According to the data as of January 13 – the latest available – there were 71 cases at an infection rate of 813.9.

Those numbers are now likely to be even higher.

The extent to which the prison cases are to blame for the rise should become clearer on Friday, when the data for yesterday will be released.