Over 100 prisoners understood to have coronavirus at Hollesley Bay
- Credit: Archant
A large outbreak of coronavirus has been confirmed at Hollesley Bay open prison.
The Prison Service confirmed on Wednesday that it was monitoring the situation at the prison, which sits on the outskirts of the Suffolk village of Hollesley after an outbreak of the virus.
A Prison Service 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.
“We have taken precautionary measures at Hollesley Bay, in line with public health guidance, and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
The Prison Service did not confirm how many prisoners or staff had been affected by the outbreak at the Suffolk prison.
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However, the The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers (POA), which represents prison staff, said that it believed over 100 prisoners were affected by the outbreak.
Jackie Marshall, POA representative for the eastern region, said that the union understood around 25 members of staff at the prison were also affected.
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"It's pretty bad," said Mrs Marshall.
"Not that it’s different from any of our other establishments but they have got staff off."
The latest figures from the Prison Service indicated that for the week ending January 11, 498 prisoners across England tested positive for the virus.
Mrs Marshall said it was tougher for open prisons, like Hollesley Bay, to keep going with staff off due to illness as they ran on less staff than closed prisons.
She said that staff in prisons were also facing issues with prisoners unhappy with restrictions.
"Whatever happens in society is reflected in prisons," said Mrs Marshall.
Concerns about the prison were initially sparked by a sudden spike in coronavirus case data from the area around the prison in the past few weeks.
In the week to December 17, just 14 cases were recorded across the villages of Hollesley, Rendlesham and Orford.
However, in the week to January 14, that number was 118 cases.
A spokesman for Hollesley Parish Council said: "We are concerned for any Hollesley resident who has contracted the virus.
"We are confident the governor will have the matter in hand.
"We wish anyone who is affected a speedy recovery."