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Communicable disease in Welsh prisons

Tuberculosis (TB) in Welsh prisons

The Public Health Wales Tuberculosis Annual Report 2019 shows that cases of TB in Wales have dropped to less than 100.  Whilst total cases in Wales declined, the proportion of cases which are UK born increased.  These cases are often from populations reporting high levels of social risk factors such as homelessness, prison or drug use.

Public Health Wales has supported management of individual cases of TB in Welsh prisons and recent outbreak of TB in a Welsh prison.

Pilot screening for latent TB infection

In 2016, Public Health Wales secured funding from Welsh Government to run a pilot of screening for latent TB infection (LTBI) in a prison setting.  The pilot aimed to answer the following questions:

  • What is the prevalence of men in prison with LTBI?
  • How acceptable is the IGRA screen for men in prison?
  • What is the impact on prison healthcare, laboratory and specialist services when providing LTBI screening for a prison population?
  • Do those who are LTBI positive engage in treatment to clear infection?

The pilot was led by Public Health Wales in collaboration with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board specialist TB service and HMP Cardiff.

Testing took place between February and March 2018 for over 550 men.  Those found to be LTBI positive underwent chest X-ray within the prison (provided by London based Find and Treat Service) to identify active infection.

The published paper with results can be accessed here.

Covid-19 in Welsh Prisons

All prisons in Wales have experienced confirmed cases of COVID-19 in both prisoners and staff.  The first confirmed cases in a prisoners and staff were on 17th and 18th of March 2020 respectively.  Prisons in Wales are following “COVID-19 prison and other prescribed places of detention guidance” guidance” from Public Health England as well as HMPPS operational policy.

Since the first cases of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) were detected in Wales, PHW and HMPPS have been working together to detect and respond to suspected cases in Welsh prisons. Amongst other measures, routine testing for SARS-CoV-2 was implemented from the onset of infection in Wales for all suspected cases amongst inmates, and later expanded to those amongst staff. 

Cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons in Wales are managed by incident management teams (IMTs).  An All-Wales Prison Outbreak Control Team was established in April 2020, initially meeting weekly, and now fortnightly to maintain oversight of COVID-19 in prisons in Wales. Members include Public Health Wales, Welsh Government, HMPPS in Wales, Prison Governors and Local Authorities.

Public Health Wales are publishing monthly reports on COVID-19 in prisons in Wales.

Public Health Wales and Welsh Government have worked closely with HMPPS in Wales to ensure those resident in prison in Wales have access to information on COVID-19, including advice on well-being whilst isolating.  Some of the leaflets produced can be accessed here.