Another prisoner has tested positive to coronavirus as the Victorian government rebuffs pleas to release inmates at increased risk of catching COVID-19.
Corrections Victoria confirmed on Wednesday a prisoner who was in protective quarantine at the Metropolitan Remand Centre returned a positive result after being tested on Monday.
A spokeswoman said there was no connection between the latest case and a previous positive case at Metropolitan Remand Centre last Friday, or a prison officer at Ravenhall Correctional Centre.
The officer at Ravenhall was confirmed on Tuesday to have contracted the virus and the facility went into lockdown.
Five other prisons were also put in lockdown, including Hopkins Correctional Centre, Langi Kal Kal, Barwon Prison, Fulham and Loddon.
The officer has been self-isolating since July 16 after being notified they were a close contact of a positive case.
Despite the positive cases and multiple prisons in lockdown, Premier Daniel Andrews said the government has no plans to free inmates.
‘I was asked this the other day, and my answer hasn’t changed. That is not a focus of our attention at the moment,’ Mr Andrews said on Wednesday.
‘This is a challenging environment. We’ve always known there was the potential for somebody connected with this unique environment to be positive.’
The Jesuit Social Services wants the state government to release groups including low-level offenders who do not pose a threat to community safety, people on remand, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those with chronic health conditions.
‘Our political leaders taking a proactive approach now will protect the health and wellbeing of people who have contact with the system, including prisoners and staff, and may literally save lives,’ chief executive Julie Edwards said on Wednesday.
The request follows a similar bid by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services’ to prevent deaths in custody due to COVID-19.
The opposition’s David Southwick has slammed the bid to release prisoners saying COVID-19 should not be a ‘get out of jail free card’.