Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Preventing and containing Covid-19 outbreaks in prisons

9 April 2020

Reducing Covid-19 coronavirus spread by “moving the most vulnerable prisoners to less-crowded parts of the prison system, where outbreaks are easier to prevent and contain…could save many lives,” explains Professor Andrew Hayward (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health).


Failure to protect the most vulnerable inmates in the UK prison system from coronavirus could result in more than 800 avoidable deaths, experts have warned.

Provisional estimates from epidemiologists at University College London suggest that uncontrolled outbreaks of infection could lead to the deaths of up to 1% of the prison population but that this could be substantially reduced if steps are taken to protect elderly prisoners and those with chronic illnesses.

Prisons have been a flashpoint in many countries’ battles against the virus, with several, including Spain, the US and Iran, ordering the release of many inmates to lessen the risk of transmission among detainees and jail staff. In Wuhan, the Chinese city where Covid-19 emerged three months ago, more than 800 prisoners were reportedly infected.

Read: Guardian