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Prisons are susceptible to outbreaks. Control measures focusing on isolation and cohorting negatively affect wellbeing. We present an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a large male prison in Wales, UK, October 2020 to April 2021, and discuss control measures.
We gathered case-information, including demographics, staff-residence postcode, resident cell number, work areas/dates, test results, staff interview dates/notes and resident prison-transfer dates. Epidemiological curves were mapped by prison location. Control measures included isolation (exclusion from work or cell-isolation), cohorting (new admissions and work-area groups), asymptomatic testing (case-finding), removal of communal dining and movement restrictions. Facemask use and enhanced hygiene were already in place. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and interviews determined the genetic relationship between cases plausibility of transmission.
Of 453 cases, 53% (n = 242) were staff, most aged 25–34 years (11.5% females, 27.15% males) and symptomatic (64%). Crude attack-rate was higher in staff (29%, 95% CI 26–64%) than in residents (12%, 95% CI 9–15%).
Whole-genome sequencing can help differentiate multiple introductions from person-to-person transmission in prisons. It should be introduced alongside asymptomatic testing as soon as possible to control prison outbreaks. Timely epidemiological investigation, including data visualisation, allowed dynamic risk assessment and proportionate control measures, minimising the reduction in resident welfare.
Between 21 November and 22 December 2020, a SARS-CoV-2 community testing pilot took place in the South Wales Valleys. We conducted a case-control study in adults taking part in the pilot using an anonymous online questionnaire. Social, demographic and behavioural factors were compared in people with a positive lateral flow test (cases) and a sample of negatives (controls). A total of 199 cases and 2621 controls completed a questionnaire (response rates: 27.1 and 37.6% respectively). Following adjustment, cases were more likely to work in the hospitality sector (aOR 3.39, 95% CI 1.43–8.03), social care (aOR 2.63, 1.22–5.67) or healthcare (aOR 2.31, 1.29–4.13), live with someone self-isolating due to contact with a case (aOR 3.07, 2.03–4.62), visit a pub (aOR 2.87, 1.11–7.37) and smoke or vape (aOR 1.54, 1.02–2.32). In this community, and at this point in the epidemic, reducing transmission from a household contact who is self-isolating would have the biggest public health impact (population-attributable fraction: 0.2). As restrictions on social mixing are relaxed, hospitality venues will become of greater public health importance, and those working in this sector should be adequately protected. Smoking or vaping may be an important modifiable risk factor.
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