March 29, 2020
Prisons take steps to lock out virus
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says last year’s measles outbreak proved a test run for his department in the containment of COVID-19 in prisons.
Prison reform group JustSpeak says it’s concerned about the coronavirus getting loose in the country’s prisons, particularly since many now use double-bunking to deal with the high muster.
Mr Davis says during the measles outbreak prisons were able to isolate people with the illness so it did not spread.
"We’ve taken steps like halting all visits from whānau, from volunteers, from lawyers. The lawyers' visits, we are looking at ways to make sure people still have access to them that don't involve face to face meetings. When new prisoners come in, they are isolated automatically for 14 days in separate units. The staff all have personal protective equipment," he says
Mr Davis says staff are doing an extraordinary job as an essential service.
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