Pox puts prison on alert

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Roe­bourne Re­gional Prison is in par­tial lock­down this month af­ter an out­break of chick­en­pox among pris­on­ers.

Nine cases of chick­en­pox have been di­ag­nosed at the prison in re­cent weeks, prompt­ing the WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice to call for re­stric­tions on move­ments into and out of the prison.

At present, all non-ur­gent vis­its and prison trans­fers have been can­celled un­til three weeks have passed since the last di­ag­no­sis.

A Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices spokesman said com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases such as chick­en­pox were not un­com­mon in prisons and prison staff had fol­lowed health pro­fes­sion­als’ ad­vice to con­tain it.

“Fol­low­ing nine di­ag­nosed cases of chick­en­pox at Roe­bourne Re­gional Prison be­tween late De­cem­ber and early Jan­uary 2017, a de­ci­sion was made by WA Coun­try Health Ser­vices that to pre­vent fur­ther spread, a vac­ci­na­tion pro­gram for in­mates and staff be un­der­taken, in ad­di­tion to other dis­ease con­trol mea­sures,” he said.

“All RRP pris­on­ers and staff were of­fered chick­en­pox vaccinations and all prison trans­fers and non-ur­gent vis­its have been tem­po­rar­ily stopped un­til the out­break of new cases has ended ... and the in­fec­tious pe­riod of up to 21 days af­ter the last case is com­pleted.

“DCS sug­gests that if any­one has con­cerns about chick­en­pox to speak to their GP or lo­cal pub­lic health team.”

Le­gal Aid re­gional di­rec­tor Lex Payne said while the re­stric­tions had pre­vented Pil­bara Le­gal Aid lawyers from vis­it­ing clients, the prison had lim­ited dis­rup­tions by pro­vid­ing tele­phone and vide­olink in­ter­views.

“In gen­eral it has had lim­ited im­pact on Le­gal Aid WA’s abil­ity to at­tend to ser­vic­ing the le­gal needs of our clients at RRP,” he said. “It re­ally only re­stricts lawyers who, be­cause of the na­ture of the in­struc­tions or ad­vice to be given, par­tic­u­larly where doc­u­ments re­quire ex­plain­ing or due to cir­cum­stances per­sonal to par­tic­u­lar clients... (there is) client pref­er­ence for face-to-face meet­ing rather than tele­phone or video links.”

The lock­down is ex­pected to be lifted in early Fe­bru­ary.

Roe­bourne Re­gional Prison is in par­tial lock­down.

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