Coronavirus outbreak at The Mount prison in Hemel Hempstead
Positive coronavirus cases increase at The Mount prison
There has been an outbreak of coronavirus at The Mount prison in Bovingdon near Hemel Hempstead.
Routine testing at The Mount has led to a number of coronavirus cases being identified.
In the seven days up to December 23, there were 122 people who tested positive by specimen in Bovingdon and Chipperfield, according to Public Health England.
Prison visits are temporarily suspended at The Mount following local restriction tiers - Dacorum is currently in Tier Four, the highest level of the Government's tiers.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Testing at HMP Mount has led to a number of coronavirus cases being identified but robust safeguards are in place to reduce the spread of the virus.”
On the Government website for The Mount it says: “Prison visits are temporarily suspended at The Mount following local restriction tiers. We will update here as soon as this changes.
"There may be the opportunity for visits under exceptional compassionate reasons which should be agreed in advance with the prison prior to travel."
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has taken precautionary measures at the Mount, in line with public health guidance, and will continue to closely monitor the situation.
They have seen no evidence to suggest outbreaks in prisons have driven a significant increase in cases in the wider community.
The routine testing in prisons means that prisoners and prison staff are more likely to be identified as having COVID-19 than the general population but it does not mean they are more likely to have coronavirus.
Also, the MoJ standard approach is to “mass test” whole prisons and their staff which equally identifies many more asymptomatic positives who are unaware of having the virus.
Social distancing is maintained in prisons as far as possible and personal protective equipment such as facemasks are worn in high risk areas, with similar requirements for face coverings to be worn by prisoners and visitors in higher risk areas.