A number of people at a Hertfordshire prison have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Hertfordshire County Council have confirmed more than 100 cases have been reported recently at HMP The Mount, near Bovingdon, Hertfordshire.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Testing at HMP Mount has led to a number of coronavirus cases being identified but robust safeguards are in place to reduce the spread of the virus.”
It’s not clear whether the tests came from prisoners or staff, or how many people tested positive for the virus.
On the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, Bovingdon and Chipperfield currently has a higher rate than surrounding areas, including 112 additional cases reported in the seven days up to December 24.
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However it is difficult to confirm how many of those are a result of testing inside The Mount.
Hertfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health Professor, Jim McManus, confirmed there had been more than 100 cases within the prison in recent weeks.
Professor McManus said: “We are seeing a significant increase in the rate of coronavirus infections across Hertfordshire, and can confirm that there has been a significant outbreak with over 100 recent positive cases within The Mount Prison, Bovingdon.
“We continue to work closely with our Public Health and Environmental Health colleagues to identify and manage local outbreaks. The only way we are going to get infection rates down is if we all play our part to prevent the virus spreading.
“This means washing your hands regularly in soap and warm water, keeping your distance from others, wearing a face covering, and isolating and getting tested if you show symptoms.”
The Ministry of Justice have also confirmed that precautionary measures are being put in place and they are monitoring the situation.
Additionally they have said there is no evidence to suggest outbreaks in prisons have contributed to significant increases in cases in the wider community.
Visiting the prison is currently suspended as Bovingdon remains in Tier 4, while prison visits are in-line with Covid-secure protocols when permitted.
The MoJ added that regular mass testing of prisoners and staff meant they are more likely to be identified as having coronavirus, but not more likely to catch the virus.
The greatest risk of the virus spreading comes from new arrivals, who are currently quarantined as they are brought into prisons, while the vulnerable are also shielded.