Please attribute to Scott Walker, Prison Director, Spring Hill Corrections Facility
As at 4.00pm Wednesday 1 September, we have been advised of 11 negative COVID-19 test results for the 23 staff who had contact with the fully vaccinated Corrections Officer who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday night.
All prisoners in the unit have been tested by our Health Services staff. As at 4.00pm we have received 96 negative test results.
Strict infection prevention and control measures continue to be in place in the unit, with staff wearing enhanced PPE, including masks, gloves, gowns and goggles when interacting with prisoners. Prisoners have also been instructed to wear PPE at any time they are outside of their cells.
Following advice from the Public Health team, when out of their cells these men are able to associate with up to 14 other prisoners in a “bubble”. Physically the unit is split in half, with the cells in each half opening onto their own large open-air grassed compound area, which lessens the risk of any airborne transmission, and also provides plenty of space for the men and staff to practise physical distancing.
I have personally spoken to all 23 of the staff who are currently self-isolating. All of them remain well, and many were disappointed not to be at work to assist with the response. We are offering them ongoing support.
Yesterday we contacted the families of all of the men in the unit to let them know about the situation, reassure them that their loved ones were well, and reiterate that we are doing everything possible to ensure that the men in the unit and our staff remain safe. This was well received, and I’d like to thank them for their understanding and the continued support they provide to the men through phone calls and letters.
I’d like to thank our public health staff here in Waikato who are providing ongoing expert advice and guidance. I would also like to acknowledge the support and guidance from local iwi Ngaati Naho, who have provided a video karakia which is available to staff and men across the prison. We know the positive impact this will have for many of our men, especially those who are concerned and unsettled as a result of yesterday’s news. Their support is invaluable, and we greatly appreciate their continued contribution to SHCF, especially at times like these.
Finally, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the team at SHCF. The response from custodial and health staff onsite yesterday was outstanding, and they have been back at it today. They have moved quickly and carefully to respond to the situation and ensure that our operations were running safely, carry out a huge number of COVID-19 tests and provide support to men in the impacted unit. I could not be prouder of them.
- Photos attached are of Health Services staff at SHCF heading into the unit yesterday to begin testing prisoners.
- You can read all of Corrections media updates relating to SHCF and COVID-19 here.
- Updates on test results will be provided each afternoon.
- Updates on vaccinations of staff and people in prison will be published on our website weekly on a Friday.