COVID-19

Melbourne prison in lockdown as Covid creeps back in

A prisoner who arrived at the Metropolitan Remand Centre on Friday has tested positive to coronavirus.It’s the first known case to hit Victoria’s prison system since the highly infectious Delta strain entered the state.Authorities are scrambling to deal with the unfolding situation, with contact tracing already underway.Five staff members have been identified as primary close contacts and will be furloughed until they return a negative result.“An asymptomatic prisoner, who was newly received in Protective Quarantine at the Metropolitan Remand Centre, has returned a positive result to COVID-19 on Sunday 12 September,” a Department of Justice and Community Safety spokesperson said.“The prisoner has been in protective quarantine since their arrival at MRC.”More than 750 prisoners are currently locked up at the maximum security prison, which has been put under Code Aqua.The prison is expected to remain in lockdown until the case is dealt with and all known contacts are tested and cleared.Limited activities, including virtual court hearings, will be allowed to continue. A prison source told the Herald Sun it was only a matter of time before the virus spread back into the system.The insider said allowing prisoners to enter the system without first testing negative to Covid-19 is risky and should be reviewed.“There has to be a better protocol put in place for prisoners who get remanded straight from police to the remand prisoners in the way of sending prisoners who are Covid-19 positive,” the source said.All new prisoners are tested and required to spend 14 days in protective quarantine regardless of the Covid-19 risks.

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