An 84-year-old sex offender has become the first prisoner to die of coronavirus in the UK.
The man, one of Britain’s oldest serving prisoners, died three days ago at HMP Littlehey, Cambridgeshire.
He is understood to have had underlying health issues and coronavirus was only detected after his death, according to The Sun.
A source told the paper: ‘There are a number of shared cells.
‘It’s not clear if others, including inmates and prison officers, have been affected.’
HMP Littlehey is a Category C male prison with space for 480 inmates.
News of the prisoner’s death comes as it was revealed 19 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus.
The number of cases, which the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said was accurate as of 1pm today, has jumped up by six in 24 hours.
Jails in England and Wales were put on immediate lockdown yesterday with all visits cancelled as it emerged thousands of staff were in self-isolation.
Jo Farrar, chief executive of the Prison and Probation Service, told the Commons Justice Committee around 4,300 prison and probation staff overall were self-isolating at present.
Some 3,500 were prison staff – representing about 10% of the workforce – and four have tested positive for Covid-19, each in separate jails.
There have been three prisoner escort and custody services staff and eight probation staff who have also tested positive.
Around 50,000 protective masks have been delivered for staff to use and a ban on bringing hand sanitiser into the prison had been lifted.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has hinted he may have to consider some forms of early release for prisoners in a bid to ease pressure on jails during the crisis.
Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: ‘The risks of infection for people who live and work in prisons are acute, as the Justice Secretary has said.
‘So while it is obviously right that the way of life in prisons should change dramatically, just as it has in the wider community, Robert Buckland is right to be considering forms of early release.
‘In a chronically overcrowded system, this will help keep people safe by reducing the pressure on both space and staff resources.’
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