Ministry of Justice confirm an officer at top security Whitemoor Prison, March, tests positive for coronavirus

Whitemoor Prison: Prisons minister Lucy Frazer (left) and MP for SE Cambs, on a visit to the March

Whitemoor Prison: Prisons minister Lucy Frazer (left) and MP for SE Cambs, on a visit to the March prison last August.. Accompanying her was acting governor Ruth Stevens. Picture; LUCY FRAZER - Credit: Archant

The Ministry of Justice confirmed today that an officer at top security Whitemoor Prison, March, has tested positive for coronavirus

Staff were notified of the outbreak at the prison by email yesterday (Friday).

A spokeswoman for the ministry said today that they were dealing only with one confirmed case within the prison staff; earlier reports from prison sources of a second confirmed case were wrong, she said,

One prison source said that the initial response from colleagues was that “no one can understand why visits are still going ahead. There are so many staff are off sick”.

Whitemoor is a maximum security prison for men in Category A and B.

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It is one of eight high security prisons and includes a Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder Unit.

The prison has an operational capacity for 458 men and that number includes some of Britain’s most dangerous and difficult to handle inmates.

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Whitemoor has a nine-bed inpatient health care centre and there is a full time doctor employed by the prison authorities with 24 hour nursing care.

In a tweet posted yesterday by prison officials it said that “we are doing all we can to provide as full a service as possible and have been in consultation with those who live at Whitemoor. “Visits will continue for as long as we can, but if you are unwell please stay away to help us keep everyone who loves and works here healthy”.

SE Cambs MP Lucy Frazer, who is also prisons minister, said recently: “The Government is doing everything it can to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, based on the very latest scientific and medical advice.

“This includes in our prisons, where we are working closely with Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care to manage the challenges we face.

“Prisons have existing, well-developed policies and procedures in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. This means prisons are well prepared to take immediate action whenever cases or suspected cases are identified, including isolating individuals where necessary”.

She added: “We understand that prisoners and their loved ones might be concerned about the situation. But we can assure them that we will continue to operate normal regimes, with the minimum disruption, for as long as we can.

“This will include visits to prisoners but, in line with Public Health advice for the general public, we urge any friend or family member not to come to a prison for visit if they have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 - a fever or new, persistent cough. We are also looking into ways to keep prisoners in close contact with their families in all eventualities and will share further information as and when necessary.”

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