An 84-year-old sex offender has become the first British prisoner to die after contracting coronavirus, as the number of inmates infected continues to rise.
The deceased was an inmate at HMP Littlehey, a category C prison in Cambridgeshire that only holds male sex offenders.
The man, who died in hospital on Sunday, reportedly had underlying health issues.
The confirmation of his death came as the Ministry of Justice released figures showing the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the prison population had risen to 19 across 10 prisons as at 1pm on Wednesday. As of Friday, there were 83,709 prisoners in England and Wales.
Littlehey prison, near Huntingdon, can hold around 1,200 prisoners. In July last year, inspectors found 12% of the population, or 145 people, were aged 70 or over. At that time, 78% of inmates presented a high or very high risk of harm.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “An 84-year-old prisoner at HMP Littlehey died in hospital on 22 March. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
“As with all deaths in custody, there will be an independent investigation by the prisons and probation ombudsman.”
Other jails known to have confirmed cases are Manchester, also known as Strangeways, Birmingham, High Down in Surrey and the privately run Oakwood prison near Wolverhampton.
Four prison staff have tested positive for the disease across four jails in England and Wales, while three prisoner escort and custody services staff have also tested positive.
The Prison Service said robust contingency plans had been put in place at its facilities in consultation with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care. Read more