A ‘large number’ of Covid cases have been reported at HMP Birmingham in a ‘significant outbreak’, BirminghamLive can reveal.
The Winson Green prison is within an area classed as Summerfield which recorded 101 positive Covid cases, up by 52, in the week to February 19.
It means the community’s rolling Covid infection rate is 946.4 per 100,000 of the population – currently the highest in Birmingham – according to official mapping data of the virus.
Birmingham’s director of public health Justin Varney confirmed a “significant outbreak” at the city prison involving a “large number of cases.”
The Prison Service would not confirm exact Covid numbers – but said its priority was to “limit the spread of the virus and protect lives”.
It prompted Coun Chaman Lal, who represents the Soho and Jewellery Quarter ward that includes the jail, to write to prisoner governor Paul Newton expressing concern over the outbreak.
Coun Lal said he was worried about the health and safety of inmates and staff if the virus continued to spread.
He told BirminghamLive: “I am very concerned by the coronavirus rising anyway. With a large number of people together in a prison environment it is perhaps expected, so the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) needs to take extra care.
“It’s also the prison staff and frontline staff. They also need to be vaccinated.”
A Prison Service spokesperson told BirminghamLive: “Our priority is to limit the spread of the virus and protect the lives of those who live and work in our prisons.
“We have taken precautionary measures at Birmingham, in line with public health guidance, and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
It said it was working closely with Public Health England and staff and prisoners had access to appropriate PPE.
Last night, Wednesday, February 24, Dr Varney told the city Covid Outbreak Engagement Board: “We have a significant outbreak in the prison at the moment which involves a large number of cases.”
The prison carried out Covid vaccinations for the top four priority groups, in line with the community, at the start of last week.
Another city councillor, Sybil Spence, added: “We’re encouraging people to take the vaccine. Only by having it we can be safe.
“I’m concerned by the Covid figures and the amount of people who have died. It’s important people follow the rules, keep their distance and wear a mask. Only by obeying the rules you can try to prevent these things.”
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