(SKY NEWS) – A total of 55 prisoners have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the Ministry of Justice has said.
The inmates are housed across 21 prisons.
In addition, 18 prison staff and four prison escort staff have tested positive.
The total number of cases has doubled since the last update on Friday, when 27 prisoners were confirmed to have tested positive.
In its daily update, the MoJ said it had temporarily paused the usual regime in prisons so it could implement the government’s measures to encourage the public to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
“This is to ensure prisons are complying with social distancing rules and to protect staff and prisoners,” it added.
It said the government had moved quickly to keep prisoners in touch with their family members during the coronavirus crisis – providing 900 secure phone handsets across 57 prisons.
The MoJ also ensured that prisons are prepared to take immediate action wherever cases or suspected cases are identified, including the isolation of individuals where necessary.