27 inmates test positive for Covid-19 in 14 different prisons

Some 27 inmates have now tested positive for coronavirus in 14 different prisons.

The number of cases, which the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said was accurate as of 1pm on Thursday, jumped up by eight in 24 hours.

Earlier this week, the department confirmed two prisoners who had the virus had died.

Jails in England and Wales were put on immediate lockdown on Tuesday with all visits cancelled as it emerged thousands of staff were in self-isolation.

Jo Farrar, chief executive of the Prison and Probation Service, told the Commons Justice Committee that around 4,300 prison and probation staff overall were self-isolating.

Some 3,500 were prison staff – representing about 10% of the workforce.

The latest figures, released by the MoJ on Friday, confirmed five prison staff have now tested positive for Covid-19, each in separate jails.

There have also been four prisoner escort and custody services staff who have tested positive, as well as around eight probation staff.

Around 50,000 protective masks have been delivered for staff to use and a ban on bringing hand sanitiser into the prison had been lifted.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has hinted he may have to consider some forms of early release for prisoners in a bid to ease pressure on jails during the crisis.

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