Over 100 prisoners dead from Covid-19 since pandemic began

12 March 2021, 23:03 | Updated: 13 March 2021, 11:18

The prison with the most positive cases so far is HMP Oakwood in Staffordshire.
The prison with the most positive cases so far is HMP Oakwood in Staffordshire. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

More than 100 prisoners have died after testing positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began, figures have shown.

Data from the Ministry of Justice showed that from March 16 2020 to February 28 of this year, 118 prisoners died after testing positive within 28 days of their death or where it was confirmed post-mortem.

Of these, the deaths of 93 inmates were suspected or confirmed to have been caused by coronavirus.

The deaths occurred in 54 prisons across England and Wales, the MoJ report said.

Some 14,480 prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, in 127 jails. Some 106 of the inmates were child criminals in youth custody.

The prison with the most positive cases so far is HMP Oakwood in Staffordshire, with 468 between March 2020 and January 2021. This peaked in January when 249 were recorded, the figures suggest.

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As of Monday, 53 jails had at least one prisoner testing positive, down from 70 a week earlier, according to separate document with the latest available statistics.

It comes as experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned there had been a "significant number of recent outbreaks in prisons", saying it had previously advised "limiting transfer of individuals between prisons".

A paper from a meeting on February 25 said: "As community prevalence decreases, outbreaks in particular settings will become more detectable and influential."

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Campaigners have called for more of the prison population, currently standing at 78,044 people, to be released on temporary licence over fears for the safety of inmates as outbreaks occur behind bars.

But the MoJ says it has taken action to try to keep staff and prisoners safe which has significantly limited the spread of the virus, and positive test results are falling.