59 inmates self-isolated after coronavirus outbreak at Wormwood Scrubs

By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter

Almost 60 inmates at Wormwood Scrubs have been self-isolating after an outbreak of coronavirus at the prison.

Fifty-nine inmates at the jail in Du Cane Road, White City, were in two-week self-isolation by October 23, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

The figure was released by Justice Minister Lucy Frazer in response to a question by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter.

Ms Frazer also confirmed that “between five and fewer” inmates had been taken to hospital, but she said this was not because of Covid-19.

It remains unclear how many inmates have tested positive for the virus.

Last week it was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that one of the category-B prison’s six wings had been entirely put in lockdown in order to contain the virus.

Inmates are normally allowed to leave their cells for one hour a day under Covid-19 restrictions, but those in isolation are not, an MoJ spokeswoman explained.

However, Ms Frazer wrote to Mr Slaughter, saying: “Prisoners, including those who are isolating, have unlimited access to washing and toilet facilities.

“They also have access to in-cell telephony so that they can maintain family contact which is vital for their mental well-being and rehabilitation.

“Since the onset of Covid-19, all prisoners have been provided with additional telephone credit to encourage contact with their families. Those in isolation have also been given further credit during this period.”

An online fundraising page, launched on October 15, claims inmates were “struggling to cope”, and aimed to raise money for care packages of food and playing cards to be delivered to individuals’ cells.

An MoJ spokeswoman previously 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 borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s infection rate has continued to rise. A total of 388 cases were confirmed in the five days to October 27, giving the borough an infection rate of 209.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Pictured top: Wormwood Scrubs, in White City


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