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Minister issues statement on recent COVID-19 cases at Dodds Prison

February 2nd, 2022

Since the well-publicised Dodds COVID-19 outbreak from late 2020 to early 2021, the prison has continued to be free of outbreaks or major COVID-19 related challenges.

Policies relating to the manner in which prisoners are accepted into the facility, COVID-19 related protocols and the vaccination of willing staff and inmates have certainly helped in this regard.  

One of the major improvements at the correctional facility would have been the training of staff there to do PCR and rapid testing, which has allowed the institution to catch many cases quite early and therefore prevent spread into the prison population and staff in general.

This includes the not so infrequent discovery of COVID-19 in new admissions/remands and the quarantine and testing policies there have thus far prevented any spread from such cases.  The continuing main challenge to the prison has been the exposure of staff members to COVID-19 outside of work. Every week sees small numbers of staff exposed to COVID-19 from family and friends. 

Since the Delta surge, there are always a few members of staff in isolation, be it at home, or in a facility, and this has increased somewhat since Omicron has reached our shores.

Recently, a staff member who works in the kitchen felt ill and tested positive for COVID-19.  This resulted in the testing of all the associated inmates and staff between Saturday, January 29, and Monday, January 31.

From that number, some 18 male inmates tested positive on their first test, and a further 26 received positive results today from their second tests yesterday.

At present, all of the positive inmates are stable and are isolated in the prison, while all of those who have been in contact with them have been quarantined away from the rest of the prison population.

So far, besides the initial positive prison officer who works in the kitchen, two other kitchen staff have tested positive (one male, one female) and this particular outbreak seems to be limited to the kitchen staff and kitchen work detail inmates, primarily, and secondarily, the residential areas that the positive inmates are associated with.

A decision was made to rapid test today’s incoming shift of prison officers and five positive results have been reported.  It would appear at this time that these “new” positives are not related to the kitchen outbreak and while this is a concerning development, it is not surprising considering the prevailing positivity rate outside of the prison since Omicron’s emergence. 

At present prison operations have not been significantly affected.

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