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Prisons in England and Wales Closed to Visitors After Four Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

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The president of the British Prison Governors Association has warned that COVID-19 is likely to spread quickly among the prison estate, which is filled with vulnerable persons, due to overcrowding, unhygienic and substandard conditions throughout the prison estate.

Prisons in England and Wales shut their doors to visitors on 24 March 2020, after four prisoners in four separate prisons tested positive for COVID-19.

"Prisons have been working closely with Public Health and NHS services to put robust contingency plans in place", explains the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service on their website. "The plans prioritise the safety of staff, prisoners and visitors while ensuring that there is as little disruption as possible to normal prison regimes, including visits", the statement says.

​It is unclear how long visitation will be closed, though the Prison and Probation Service says that the public can still contact prisoners by email, writing letters and using the Prison Voicemail Service.

​The prisons, which as of 24 March 2020 have each confirmed one case of COVID-19, are:

On 23 March World Health Organization Europe issued guidelines making clear that governments must ensure that their prisoners and detainees are treated in line with human rights law, and that they are provided healthcare equal to that of the rest of their society. The document warns that prisoners are at particular risk of contracting COVID-19 and are especially vulnerable to human rights violations. 

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