A major Covid outbreak at Barlinnie prison raises serious concerns both for prisoner and staff health and prison service transparency, says the Howard League Scotland.
The Scottish Prison Service confirmed that 400 prisoners – a third of the jail’s population – were self-isolating, while 205 of staff are reported to be on sick leave or isolating themselves.
But Howard League Scotland points out that information about the numbers of prisoners testing positive – which leapt to 116 this afternoon – had not been updated on the prison service website for 42 days.
The campaigners also point out that, in the midst of a second wave of infections, the prison population has already returned to 93% of its pre-pandemic levels.
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Covid cases in prisons in England and Wales double in October
This slide shows the number of coronavirus cases falling back in most parts of Wales.
In Merthyr the rate per 100,000 people is around 420, down from a peak of almost 770. The rate in Wrexham has almost halved to around 150 cases.
The only place the trend is up is Ceredigion in west Wales – this is largely due to care home cases.
Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, said: “We need to keep building on this.”
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Leading Scotland’s coronavirus briefing, deputy first minister John Swinney began by welcoming “a real piece of bright good news”. He was, of course, referring to the national team’s nail-biting win over Serbia last night, qualifying for a major tournament after more than 20 years, and not the personnel changes at Downing Street.
Asked about some concerning scenes posted on social media of relieved fans crowding together, Swinney said he acknowledged that “we are all missing the chance to embrace, to hug”. He went on:
We all understand the natural desire to celebrate but the virus is a very real threat to all of our lives and our communities. Although we’re all frustrated and fed up with restrictions and when something comes along like a magnificent football team victory we all want to celebrate … but we all have to understand that following social distancing rules and facts guidance is critical.
Responding earlier to scenes of football fans in an Aberdeen beer garden, Susan Webb, director of public health at NHS Grampian, said:
While I cannot comment on these specific circumstances, I can say this: this virus does not rest. It does not take a minute off, much less 90 minutes, extra time and penalties.
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