In the headlines this morning (12th February 2020) information has been released from HMP Bullingdon, in Oxfordshire, stating that one inmate has been quarantined and is undergoing testing for Coronavirus.
The inmate in question is believed to be a UK citizen, but came over from Thailand in January. No signs of illness were apparent, until the inmate collapsed in his cell last night.
Another inmate developed ‘flu like symptoms’ and is now also being tested, and, according to the prison, the entire wing is now on shut down for the next 72 hours. Both men remain inside the prison.
The UK is on high alert for any new cases of the virus, as now there have been a total of 8 confirmed cases in the country. All of the confirmed UK cases are being kept in isolation in London and Newcastle.
There is so much information available regarding the virus, and how its spread, however, the problem is that the virus is constantly changing, making it very difficult to predict!
So far, across the world, there over 45,000 cases, and over 1,000 deaths, these, however, are just the reported cases. It is feared that there are many more cases which have not been disclosed to the relevant bodies.
Predictions have been made that it could affect 60% of the world’s population, and experts warn that it could kill 2 in every 100 cases.
So… what would happen if it hit the UK prison system?
Well, hopefully this suspected case has been caught in time, however, if not then it does seem that prisons are ideal isolation facilities, and actually, if this turns into a pandemic, prison is probably the best place to be!
But, let’s look at the worst case scenario, just for arguments sake.
December 31st 2019 was the date when China reported cases of unexplained pneumonia, and by the end of January 2020 there were just under 8,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus.
Today, February 12th there are a total of 45,207 cases worldwide.
So, if this virus was going to get into the prison system, and no one did anything about it (not the case at all) where there are around 84,000 inmates and 24,000 prison officers, then it wouldn’t take a huge amount of time to hit every single person in the system.
But, it is very unlikely, extremely unlikely in fact, that this will be a probable scenario. Prisoners are watched pretty closely, so any sign of illness would be picked up on rather quickly, not only this, but the ability to close down individual parts of the prison will be a huge advantage when it comes to containing the virus.
Now, I am by no means encouraging the idea of getting into prison just to steer clear of the virus, but I do believe that your loved ones inside will not be at a direct risk, and actually, they are probably in the safest place!