The coronavirus has infiltrated Victorian prisons, with inmates and staff at six prisons affected by the highly contagious virus.
Covid-19 has leaked into Victoria prisons with 39 inmates and 15 staff now infected with the virus.
Five cases were found among general inmates, all at Ravenhall Correctional Center, and these prisoners were transferred to isolation units.
“Given the identification of a COVID-19 positive prisoner among the main population, a large-scale surveillance testing system has been implemented in Ravenhall,” Victoria Corrections said Tuesday.
The first round of testing saw 902 prisoners tested in Ravenhall and the second round of probation tests began yesterday, with 749 prisoners surveyed so far.
“So far, five positive results from the test have been returned.”
The department said that none of the employees contracted COVID-19 by contacting the inmates.
With the exception of a few cases in Ravenhall, no prison staff have contracted COVID-19.
Victoria Corrections said the other 34 cases have been contained in quarantine and isolation units across the prison system since their arrival and do not pose a threat to the general prison population or staff.
The Department of Justice said it was working with the state health department to help trace contacts.
Movement of prisoners at Port Phillip Prison and Loudoun Prison is temporarily restricted while contacts are traced.
The cases come amid concerns from the state’s Aboriginal Legal Service that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more susceptible to COVID-19 than other groups behind bars.
Indigenous Legal Service Victoria said data from Corrections Victoria on the current outbreak in prisons was “limited”.
The organization called on the state government to provide regular detailed updates, including how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have tested positive.
“Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people are more at risk and are less likely to have access to adequate health care than other groups in prison,” VALS said.
“We need transparency and accountability to ensure there are no preventable deaths in custody due to the Andrews government’s management of the Covid outbreak in Victorian prisons.”
The Department of Corrections said policies to protect employees and inmates from Covid are being communicated by infection control experts and are consistent with advice from state and federal authorities.
As of Monday, 74 per cent of adult inmates had received their first dose of the Covid vaccine while 53 per cent had been fully vaccinated, although the number changes daily as people enter and exit the system.
Also, 82 percent of state prison staff received their first dose and 63 percent were fully vaccinated.
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