Please attribute to Neil Beales, Chief Custodial Officer:

Corrections has been advised by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) that a woman remanded into custody at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility on Thursday has returned a positive test for COVID-19.

The woman refused to be tested upon arrival and was therefore immediately placed into a dedicated quarantine area, where she has been cared for by staff wearing PPE, including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection. After encouragement from staff she agreed to be tested on Saturday 25 September and this returned a positive result. In line with our COVID-19 protocols, she will remain in the quarantine area of our site.

We are working closely with ARPHS and contact tracing has been carried out. Close contacts have been identified and are being advised to isolate and get tested as required.

All new receptions into custody are transported in a secure vehicle and both prisoners and staff are required to wear PPE. Our prisoner escort vehicles have enhanced cleaning procedures in place to prevent any potential for the virus to spread between movements. Newly received prisoners wear masks, and staff in the receiving office also wear PPE (masks, gloves, eye protection and gowns) to prevent any potential for transmission. The receiving office is cleaned regularly, and following the positive result, we are arranging for deep cleaning to take place.

We will provide information to all of the prisoners impacted so they fully understand the controls we are putting in place for their health and safety. They will continue to have access to Health Services staff who will assist them with any questions or concerns.

At Alert Level 3 the prison is closed to all visitors. Only essential staff are on site. Staff welfare support has been put in place and we are arranging surveillance testing for staff at the site. I would like to thank all of our team at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility for their professionalism and willingness to continue to carry out their essential work.

As an organisation, our top priority is safety – of the public, our staff, visitors to our sites and the people we are managing in prisons and the community. As we have seen in prisons internationally, the impact can be devastating. We have a duty of care to the men and women we manage in prisons, and to our staff, and we are well prepared for this situation. Since March 2020 we have put in place extensive plans to manage any risk to our staff or the people we manage, including robust infection prevention and control plans at all Alert Levels, with detailed record keeping for both staff and visitors to our sites to enable fast and thorough contact tracing.

Information on Corrections vaccination programme

Corrections knows that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best thing that we can all do to keep ourselves, the people we manage, our team and our wider community safe from COVID-19. We are committed to ensuring that all of our staff and people in prison have access to the COVID-19 vaccination on an ongoing basis and we are strongly and actively encouraging everyone to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Between the launch of our vaccination programme in May and 19 September 2021, 5,107 staff have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on site at one of our prisons (excluding those who have chosen to receive the vaccine via their local DHB), and 4,158 have received their second dose. In addition, 4,860 current prisoners have received their first dose and 2,159 have received their second dose. A further 783 people who are no longer in prison also received their first dose of the vaccine while they were in custody, with 151 people also receiving their second dose.

Further information on our vaccination programme is available on our website.

Note: Five staff at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility have been identified as close contacts and are being asked to self-isolate and get a test. No people currently in custody are close contacts. Any further questions about contacts will need to be directed to the Ministry of Health.