Auckland Prison sent home a staff member yesterday as a coronavirus precaution after they returned to work from an overseas trip feeling unwell.
Department of Corrections deputy national commissioner Andy Milne confirmed to the Herald a staffer was sent home yesterday on their first day back on the job.
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"A staff member at Auckland Prison returned to work today [Friday] after a period of time overseas and was sent home as a precaution after reporting feeling unwell," Milne said.
"The person had no contact with prisoners. All necessary procedures have been followed to manage the situation, including providing health advice to staff. The unwell person is seeking further medical advice.
"On the advice of the Ministry of Health, we are taking a proactive and deliberately cautious approach to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of prisoners, our staff, contractors and visitors, and the community.
"We have robust plans in place to mitigate the risk of any infectious illness from spreading in prison."
A member of the public got in contact with the Herald reporting a mass email had been sent to Auckland Prison staff yesterday alerting them to the coronavirus risk.
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The email allegedly contained a warning to other prison staff members who may have been in contact with the at-risk individual.
Milne said Auckland Prison had reacted to the coronavirus risk by isolating certain prisoners and others on prison grounds who might have been exposed.
"The secure and controlled nature of the prison environment means we are able to quickly isolate any prisoners, restrict movements, and identify those on site who would have been in contact with any unwell individual should this be required," he said.
"These measures were well practised last year during the measles outbreak.
Milne said the prison was taking all recommended precautions by the Ministry of Health to deal with the incident.
"We will continue to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health and have a number of controls in place to reduce the risk of any infection, and to ensure the health and safety of our staff, prisoners and visitors in the event of a suspected or confirmed case," he said.
"We remain vigilant in ensuring that prisoners and staff are well informed about the symptoms of Covid-19 and how to prevent infection from spreading, and will continue to reiterate the importance of this."