A cluster of 28 active COVID-19 cases has been identified among prison inmates, the largest outbreak behind bars since the pandemic broke out around 11 months ago.

A spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri on Saturday told Times of Malta the inmates at Corradino Correctional Facility were being isolated and there was no cause for alarm as the situation was under control. 

“Just as the numbers are rising in the country, prison is no exception – especially since neither the country, nor the prison are on lockdown,” the spokeswoman said.

Details on the cause of the outbreak were not yet available at the time of writing.

With some 900 inmates, the number of active coronavirus cases in prison now stands at around 3%, slightly below the national average of 4%. 

Just as the numbers are rising in the country, prison is no exception

On Saturday, health authorities announced 119 new COVID-19 cases had been detected across the entire country, the lowest daily case count since January 3. However, it was coupled with the lowest number of swab tests in recent days. 

Meanwhile, the home affairs ministry said the infected inmates were being held in the dormitory where the outbreak occurred. 

Previously, infected inmates were being held at CCF’s Division 6, the maximum-security wing of the Victorian-era prison.

The division, normally used as a punitive solitary confinement area, has been used throughout the pandemic as a quarantine facility to isolate incoming prisoners as well as those who test positive.

The ministry said the correctional facility has kept up its continuous disinfection and mask-wearing protocol, as well as ensuring that visitors speak to inmates from behind perspex.

Back in March, when Malta was experiencing the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, visits at CCF were stopped and wardens slept at the correctional facility for a week as part of a series of measures to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

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