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Swine Flu: Prisoners

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) whether any cases of swine influenza have been diagnosed in the Northern Ireland prison population; (287709)

(2) what contingency arrangements are in place to protect the health of staff in prisons in Northern Ireland in the event of cases of swine influenza among prisoners.

There have been no cases of swine influenza reported among prisoners or prison staff in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) is working in close partnership with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, the Public Health Agency and other health service colleagues to prepare for a potential outbreak within the prison population.

Pandemic flu contingency plans have been developed and NIPS has a range of measures in place. The key objectives will be to minimise onward transmission of infection and maximise appropriate healthcare interventions.

Advice on infection control is being kept up to date throughout the prison estate and guidance for staff and prisoners has been issued. Infection control measures, including hand gel dispensers and enhanced cleaning regimes, are in place. All three NIPS establishments have been supplied with stocks of personal protection equipment (PPE) for both healthcare and operational staff, and training for staff with regard to PPE is underway. Stocks of antivirals have been issued to each establishment, as well as additional medications for managing the symptoms of swine flu, such as paracetamol, antibiotics and respiratory drugs.