Wed, 20 Jan, 2021 – 06:30
An officer at Cork Prison has been hospitalised after contracting Covid-19, it has emerged.
He and a colleague tested positive at around the same time and contact-tracing has been carried out to try and ascertain how they contracted the virus.
It comes as new figures show that a total of 49 inmates across the prison system have Covid-19, up from 40 on January 8.
A third round of testing is due to take place in Dublin’s Wheatfield Prison, which has the largest number of cases in the system.
Ten prisoners are currently positive in Wheatfield and, it is estimated, between 55 and 60 prison officers are on Covid-related leave, either due to testing positive or from being a close contact.
The Irish Prison Service confirmed that 49 prisoners have tested positive as of January 18 — up from 40 ten days previously.
This comprises 25 prison-based transmissions (in the general prison population) and 24 community transmissions (people committed via the courts from the community or prisoners returning on temporary release).
These figures represent an increase of eight prison transmissions and one community transmission on January 8 figures
It is understood that in addition to the 10 positive cases in Wheatfield, there are nine positive cases in Loughan House Open Centre in Cavan, three positive cases in Portlaoise, and two in Mountjoy.
In Cork Prison, around 13 staff are out on Covid-19 leave, either having tested positive or as a close contact.
Two of these were contracted in early January and the health of one officer deteriorated to the extent that he was hospitalised at the weekend.
The Irish Prison Service is awaiting word as to when prisons will be included in the vaccine rollout.