Establishing prison-led contact tracing to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons in Ireland

Mattea Clarke*, John Devlin, Emmett Conroy, Enda Kelly, Sunita Sturup-Toft

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background Preventing transmission of COVID-19 within prisons is both important and challenging. The confined conditions in prisons can encourage person-to-person spread with the potential for outbreaks occurring. Contact tracing is an important contributor to the longer-term management strategy for COVID-19 in prisons as well as in the community but is highly resource-intensive. This paper describes the approach to contact tracing taken by the Irish Prison Service (IPS). Methods The IPS National Infection Control Team, in collaboration with the National Quality Improvement (QI) team and Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland, implemented a programme to develop and train in-prison contact tracing teams (CTTs). CTTs were run by prison staff with experience of working with detainees, prison IT systems and CCTV. Protocols for undertaking contact tracing for both detainee and staff cases of COVID-19 were established. Results All prisons, and two support agencies, within the IPS now have fully functional in-prison CTTs. Every CTT has responded to at least one case COVID-19, undertaken contact tracing and instigated quarantine of contacts. Conclusions A partnership approach with development of prison-led CTTs can provide an effective mechanism for contact tracing of COVID-19 cases within the prison setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-524
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Contact tracing
  • Covid-19
  • Prison
  • Public health


Dive into the research topics of 'Establishing prison-led contact tracing to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons in Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this