Covid rates jump in area of city after prison outbreak

Norwich Prison. Photo : Steve Adams

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

The part of Norwich housing the city's prison has seen a significant increase in coronavirus cases, with infection rates now almost five times the national average.

The Prison Service confirmed on December 5 it was taking "precautionary measures" after a number of inmates at Norwich Prison had tested positive for Covid-19

Authorities have not revealed the number who have tested positive. But latest government coronavirus figures show that in the week to December 7, cases in the Heartsease area of Norwich, in which the prison is sited, increased from seven to 81.

It came as a 1,075pc rise. The seven-day rolling rate of cases per 100,000 people is 811.2 - almost five times the national average of 167.3 and among the highest in the country..

Coronavirus infection rates have risen in the area around Norwich prison.

Coronavirus infection rates have risen in the area around Norwich prison. - Credit:

The prison has suspended visits to its inmates.

While prison visits are suspended for areas under Tier 3 of the restrictions, they are continuing in Tier 1 and 2 areas where it is safe to do so.

In an update posted on its website, the Ministry of Justice says: "Prison visits are temporarily suspended at Norwich Prison. We will update here as soon as this changes. There may be exceptions for compassionate reasons which should be agreed in advance with the prison prior to travel. This position will be extended over the Christmas period." 

The Prison Service said visits had been suspended to protect inmates, staff and visitors. A spokesman said: “Our priority is to limit the spread of the virus and protect the lives of those who live and work in our prisons.

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

More widely, figures show the infection rate for Norfolk was 105.8 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to December 7, an increase from 90.4 in the week ending November 30.

Norwich now has the highest infection rate in the county with 145.8 cases per 100,000 people

At the prison, video visits will be offered to enable inmates to remain in touch with their families. 

All those affected are believed to be on one of the Victorian prison's 10 wings. The jail, on Mousehold Heath, houses 750 men and has a wing for elderly inmates serving life sentences. 

Nationally, the Prison Service said 344 prisoners in 43 prisons were currently affected. But it does not provide figures for individual jails. The prison population in England and Wales is around 80,000, meaning infection rates inside are more than twice the national average.

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