More than 50 Waikeria Prison staff have been sent home and are isolating after one of their colleagues became a close contact of a positive Covid case.
The incident has seen the facility's medical services hit with all nursing staff out of action, but Corrections is confident it can provide essential services - including administering medication.
Central regional commissioner Terry Buffery confirmed to the NZ Herald the staffer involved - who worked in the prison's health centre - was immediately sent home to isolate and get tested after being notified of her close contact status earlier today.
Contact tracing identified 52 other staff members as contacts of the original staffer.
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In what was described as a "deliberately cautious approach", Buffery said the 52 staff at the facility near Te Awamutu were stood down until the original staffer's test result was returned.
Given the impact on the health centre, a nurse and a health centre manager had been sourced from Spring Hill Corrections Facility near Meremere to ensure healthcare
The staffer also worked in the Nikau unit, which contained 74 men. Buffery said they would be provided additional support and access to staff if they had any questions.
Fortunately, the unit - now being treated as a quarantine unit - was several kilometres away from any other unit. Both the Nikau unit and the health centre had been cleaned.
All staff on site since November 8 had had at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, thanks to a recent workforce mandate. More than 90 per cent of staff were fully vaccinated.
Eighty-two per cent of prisoners had received their first dose, while 75 per cent had had both.
Buffery would not speculate on any further impact the incident could have on staff or prisoners who had also been identified as contacts of the staff member before the test result was returned.