Inmates confined to their cells for up to two weeks with over 30 cases reported
Wormwood Scrubs prison. Picture: Petr Brož
Inmates at Wormwood Scrubs Prison in Shepherd's Bush are in 24/7 isolation following a Covid-19 outbreak.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that inmates in one wing of the prison have tested positive, and that all prisoners in that wing are having to stay in their cells 24/7, for a period of two weeks.
An online fundraising page, published October 15, claims there have been “30 positive cases” in the affected wing of the category B prison, which has six main wings.
The page says inmates are “struggling to cope”, and aims to raise money for care packages of food and playing cards to be delivered to individuals’ cells.
The MoJ was asked to confirm the number of inmates at Wormwood Scrubs who have tested positive and who are self-isolating, but they refused to say.
A spokesperson said, “We have effective measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus in prisons, led by the latest advice from Public Health England.”
The MoJ website states that visits to Wormwood Scrubs Prison inmates are banned. Inmates are not allowed personal phones, so calls to family have to be made by the inmates on the prison’s phones.
Last week, the Evening Standard reported that prisons throughout the country have suspended inmates’ behavioural and educational courses, and that Wormwood Scrubs had “no planned date” to reinstate the courses.
The MoJ website gives monthly figures for the number of inmates who have died of Covid-19 or tested positive across England and Wales.
As of September 30, 23 inmates had died from the virus in England and Wales since the pandemic began, and the most recent death was in May. Some 630 inmates, including young offenders, had tested positive.
The MoJ spokesperson was asked for information on what was being done to protect inmates who are elderly and with underlying health conditions, but they did not comment further.
A section of the MoJ website about Covid safety reads: “Prisons have procedures to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases and are prepared if cases are identified…
“Handwashing facilities are available to prisoners, staff and visitors and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure the supply of soap and cleaning materials.”
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
October 20, 2020