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Coronavirus: Pregnant prisoners to be given temporary release to self-isolate
31 March 2020, 19:35
Prisoners who are pregnant or are in mother and baby units are due to be given temporary release in order to self-isolate at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the women will only be released if they are deemed a low risk of harm to the public and have suitable accommodation to stay in.
They will be required to adhere to a number of strict rules, including staying at home and wearing an electronic tag - and can be recalled to prison for breaching these conditions.
It comes as the government looks to implement measures to protect inmates and prison staff from Covid-19.
Pregnant women fall under the category of vulnerable people, according to advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and are therefore expected to be extra vigilant around those with symptoms of the illness.
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said "extraordinary measures" had already been carried out to protect prisoners, but had decided to extend the measures for pregnant women to fall in line with official advice.
He said: "Governors can now temporarily release pregnant prisoners so that they can stay at home and reduce social contact like all other expectant mothers have been advised to do."
According to the MoJ, 65 inmates have tested positive for Covid-19 across 23 prisons in the UK, while 14 prison staff have tested positive across eight prisons.
Four prisoner escort and custody services staff have also contracted the virus.
As of 6pm on Monday, there were 35 pregnant women in prisons across the UK.