News State Victoria News COVID-19 spreading in Vic prison system

COVID-19 spreading in Vic prison system

Melbourne Assessment Prison has recorded 16 infections as COVID hits Victoria's jail population. Photo: AAP
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Dozens of Victorian prisoners and staff are battling COVID-19 as the state’s worsening outbreak leaks into jails.

Corrections Victoria on Tuesday confirmed 36 prisoners and 15 staff are among the state’s more than 14,000 active cases.

Experts say prisons are particularly vulnerable to the virus, as Victorian prisons are over 100 per cent capacity and inmates have a higher rate of preexisting conditions.

Indigenous Australians, who have a higher rate of preexisting conditions, are also massively over represented in the prison population.

Of the infected prisoners, 16 are based at the Melbourne Assessment Prison, 11 at the Metropolitan Remand Centre, five at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre, three at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and one at Port Phillip Prison.

There are also cases among staff members, who could spread the virus into the wider community.

Staff are known to be infected at the Metropolitan Remand Centre, Ravenhall Correctional Centre, Port Phillip Prison, Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Maribyrnong Community Residential Facility and Barwon Prison.

Prisoner movement at the Dame Phyllis and Port Phillip prisons has been restricted while contact tracing takes place, and all in-person visits to Victorian jails are suspended.

“Zoom visits are generally available, but may be impacted while prisoner movement at a facility is restricted,” Corrections Victoria said.

“Some prisons may not be able to offer frequent phone calls for prisoners. We understand that telephone contact is important for prisoners and their friends and family.

“Phone access will be provided, subject to prisoner movement restrictions, as soon as possible.”

As of October 1, 73 per cent of adults in public and private prisons had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 52 per cent were fully vaccinated.

The first and second dose rates among prison staff were slightly higher, at 81 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.

All new Victorian prisoners are tested and required to spend 14 days in protective quarantine, regardless of their COVID-19 risk.

-with AAP