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By Elesha George

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Wardens at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) have reportedly been calling in sick, or have been applying for sick leave since it was revealed that three officers and 32 prisoners tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

Well-placed sources told Observer that the officers are concerned about their safety while on the job.

Those affected include two kitchen staff who have since been isolated.

Information reaching our newsroom suggests that the inmates are also concerned about their well-being and how the outbreak is being handled, particularly with overcrowding and pre-existing poor conditions at the facility.

Prisoners who have contracted the virus are said to be asymptomatic and are being kept in a separate facility on-site; however, that building is said to be at its capacity. An off-site location, which is being retrofitted for those infected is not likely to come onstream until later this week, reports suggest.

In addition, some prisoners believe that the matter is not being taken seriously enough by the authorities. They are also questioning why measures have not been put in place beforehand to deal with any possible outbreak of Covid-19 within HMP.

The increased number of Covid patients came to light after tests were conducted on more than 200 prisoners after one inmate had tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, prison activist Jessica Thompson is demanding an apology from acting Prison Superintendent Jermaine Anthony, who said last week that Thompson’s claim that 21 people inside the penal institution had tested positive for Covid, was false and malicious.

At the time, he said that only one person had tested positive and that inmate had been placed in quarantine at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre.

He also said then that it was too early to make any determination about any additional cases at HMP.  

Yesterday, Anthony told Observer that he was unable to respond to the reports of prison officers withdrawing their service, as he was busy attending a meeting to deal with the issues at hand.