Fresh calls for answers over HMP Norwich coronavirus outbreak

Norwich Prison. Photo : Steve Adams

Norwich Prison, where visits have been suspended after a coronavirus outbreak - Credit: Steve Adams

Fresh calls have been made for transparency over the outbreak of Covid-19 at Norwich Prison - as we reveal five questions the Ministry of Justice will not answer.

Almost a month after it was first confirmed that an outbreak of the virus had hit the prison on Knox Road, the number of cases has yet to be revealed.

It has also not been confirmed how many cases have affected staff members and the number of inmates who have tested positive.

George Nobbs, the county councillor representing the Crome ward - where the prison is - is calling for more transparency over the ongoing outbreak.

Cllr George Nobbs(pictured), leader of the Council, Cllr Toby Coke, chairman of the Environment, Dev

Cllr George Nobbs(pictured), leader of the Council, Cllr Toby Coke, chairman of the Environment, Development and Transport Committee and Tom McCabe, executive director of Community and Environmental Services brief the media on the latest news for the Norwich NDR at County Hall.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

He said: "My view is that the best thing the Ministry of Justice can do is give us truthful, honest figures. People are getting frustrated and deserve to have some kind of figure to allay their concerns.

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"I've been contacted by a number of people in my area and they too want to know."

Mr Nobbs also requested these figures from the county council, which was also unable to provide them - however, it was confirmed to him that some members of prison staff had tested positive.

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He was told: "As of December 22, all inmates and staff have been offered a test. There are a number of staff member isolating as a result of either testing positive or being identified as a contact of a positive case."

The latest set of figures for the area show an infection rate of more than 900 cases per 100,000 people, more than double the national average.

A spokesman for the MoJ said: "Carefully implemented measures - including shielding the vulnerable, rolling out mass testing and introducing safe regimes - have undoubtedly prevented many deaths and limited transmission in a uniquely challenging environment.

“We have taken precautionary measures at Norwich, in line with public health guidance, following a number of positive cases and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

This newspaper requested the following from the MoJ:

1) How many positive test results were confirmed in the prison at the beginning of the outbreak?

2) How many positive tests are there currently?

3) How many members of staff have tested positive for Covid-19?

4) How many members of staff have been asked to isolate and for how long?

5) How many tests have been carried out on prisoners and members of staff?

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