Coronavirus Australia: Prisons in NSW are locked after a number of Covid-19 outbreaks

All prisons in NSW go into statewide lockdown over fears a ‘Covid BOMB’ will go off after dozens of inmates test positive

  • Prisons across NSW are locked down after facilities register Covid clusters
  • Parklea Correctional Center registered 31 positive cases in inmate population
  • While Bathurst Correctional Center registered 8 positive officers and inmates
  • Rapid antigen screening will be implemented as a priority in all NSW prisons

Every prison in New South Wales has been locked after Covid clusters have emerged among unvaccinated inmates and staff.

Inmates will not be able to move through their facilities, there will be no mixing or recreation, and visitors will not be able to see their loved ones, as officials fear the Delta variant could devastate prison populations.

Parklea Correctional Center has 31 inmates tested positive for Covid and Bathurst Correctional Center registered eight cases, including correctional officers.

The NSW prison system will enter a statewide lockdown after a number of Covid clusters are registered in correctional facilities (pictured, Silverwater Correctional Complex when the lockdown began on Monday)

The NSW prison system will enter a statewide lockdown after a number of Covid clusters are registered in correctional facilities (pictured, Silverwater Correctional Complex when the lockdown began on Monday)

Silverwater Prison has also been dealing with an outbreak, with officials not disclosing how many inmates or staff were affected.

A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said rapid antigen screening was already in place at the Surry Hills Cells Complex and Bathurst Correctional Center but will be prioritized in other prisons.

NSW’s Public Service Association, the union representing prison guards, said only half of their officers had been fully vaccinated, calling into question the government’s speed of vaccination.

Secretary General Stewart Little told ABC radio on Monday that doses previously assigned to prison staff had been forwarded to HSC students.

Parklea Correctional Center registered highest number of cases, with 31 inmates testing positive for Covid-19

Parklea Correctional Center registered highest number of cases, with 31 inmates testing positive for Covid-19

Parklea Correctional Center registered highest number of cases, with 31 inmates testing positive for Covid-19

“If they don’t prioritize it they will have rocks in their heads because I can assure you having Covid in a prison will be like a bomb going off,” Mr Little said.

“So there’s a certain amount of anger that we don’t have the higher level of vaccination.”

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned that the situation was very worrying and correction officers were being targeted for vaccination.

‘It is of course a complex operational environment. People live close to each other, it is clear that people come to work in those prisons, Covid can be introduced. We also have a high turnover,” said Dr Chant.

Inmates will not be able to engage in or participate in recreation and visitors will no longer be able to see their loved ones (photo, Silverwater Prison on Monday)

Inmates will not be able to engage in or participate in recreation and visitors will no longer be able to see their loved ones (photo, Silverwater Prison on Monday)

Inmates will not be able to engage in or participate in recreation and visitors will no longer be able to see their loved ones (photo, Silverwater Prison on Monday)

‘Prisons is something we would also see a role for RAT (rapid antigen test) testing and other tests. I know they have tested and isolated people when they go to jail to try to avoid introducing Covid.”

Currently, all inmates are tested when they arrive at prisons in NSW and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period before being allowed to enter the general prison population.

Correction Services officials hope they can use the lockdown to assess measures in place to prevent further Covid-19 outbreaks among prison populations.

Advertisement

.