A newly-arrived prisoner at Ngawha Prison suspected to have measles will be isolated until his immunity status is be confirmed.

Corrections deputy national commissioner Andy Milne said the prisoner arrived at the Northland Region Corrections Facility, just outside Kaikohe, on Friday last week and was immediately isolated after disclosing he might have contracted measles while in the community.

"We are awaiting serology test results for the prisoner who will remain isolated until his immunity status can be confirmed. The prisoner is not symptomatic of measles and has not had contact with any other prisoners," he said.

While no cases have been confirmed, Milne said prison management had taken immediate steps, guided by the advice of Ngā Tai Ora – Public Health Northland to reduce the risk of infection spreading and ensure the health and safety of staff, prisoners and visitors.

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He said Corrections ensured only staff with confirmed immunity were working with the isolated prisoner, continuing to proactively monitor all prisoners on site for any symptoms of infection, and taking advice from Public Health Northland about vaccinations for prison employees and prisoners.

"As you are aware, there have been a significant number of confirmed cases of measles in the community. Because of this, we have been vigilant in ensuring that prisoners and staff are well informed about the symptoms of measles and how to prevent infection from spreading by supplying them with information from health agencies, and will continue to reiterate the importance of this."

The prison had 595 prisoners as of 4pm yesterday.

The number of confirmed cases in Northland reached 77 as of Friday last week, data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research showed.

Of that number, 15 have been hospitalised.

There has been an increase in measles cases among primary school-aged children in and around Kerikeri, Whangārei, and Kaiwaka.

Most are in the 5 to 14-year age group, followed by under 5 years.

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