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Prisons ‘prepare emergency coronavirus plans to deal with sick inmates and staff shortages’

The Government is currently working on emergency plans for prisons, according to a new report (Picture: Getty)

The Government is currently working on emergency plans for prisons to avoid any possible disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report.

The measures include offering prison staff bonuses to cover shifts and also moving some workers to other locations to cope with shortages, the BBC reports.

The plans will ensure prisoners can contact loved ones.

Inmates who have to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus will be provided with extra materials, including magazines and books to help keep them occupied.

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Inmates who have had contact with someone who was known to have coronavirus should be put in a cell on their own, according to advice seen by the BBC.

The Prison Officers Association previously said coronavirus cases in prisons were inevitable and compared jails to cruise ships, which have seen many cases.

A couple wear face masks as they visit Buckingham Palace in London (Picture: AP)
Empty supermarket shelves in London (Picture: AP)

Authorities have said they do not think it’s necessary to release prisoners to cope with the pandemic but they have not ruled out freeing vulnerable inmates who are older or have underlying health conditions, the report added.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will be hoping to avoid the scenes in Italy where several prisoners died when inmates rioted after visits were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more: Italians sing from their homes while living under coronavirus lockdown

Minister of State Lucy Frazer QC MP said in a statement: “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.

“The safety and wellbeing of staff, prisoners and visitors is paramount and at the heart of our approach.

“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.”

Globally, more than 145,000 cases have been confirmed, with Johns Hopkins University in the US tracking 71,000 recoveries and more than 5,000 deaths.