230. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to outbreaks of Covid-19 in prisons in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9227/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service as of 16 February 2021 that there have been 67 confirmed cases of Covid-19 identified amongst the prisoner population.
Of the 67 cases, 40 were community based infections and were detected by the early intervention testing of all new committals to prison. The remaining 27 cases were prisoners in the general population.
As the Deputy may be aware, the Prison Service has put in place an extensive range of measures to prevent Covid-19 transmission within prisons, detect early any possible infection in a prisoner or staff member and prevent the spread of infection should there be a confirmed case.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the Irish Prison Service has provided weekly updates on the management of the Covid pandemic.
The Irish Prison Service have categorized an Outbreak having occurred on eight occasions, this may be a cluster of staff or prisoner cases. During an Outbreak the Irish Prison Service provide daily management updates. Upon confirmation of an outbreak situation, an Outbreak Control Team is established to work with the prison on containing the outbreak. The team is led by a Director and comprises of prison management; Healthcare staff; National Infection Control; with representatives from the HR Directorate, Operations Directorate; the press office and the Prison Officers Association.
The Outbreak Control Team serve to support the prison in ensuring compliance with the overall response to the Covid pandemic The Outbreak Control Team meet as often as necessary and guide, advise, support and oversee the coordination of the outbreak. The essential security and safe custody of processes and day to day operation of the prison is not compromised as part of Outbreak Control Management.