A Scottish prison officer has died of coronavirus.
The Prison Officers Association (POA) in Scotland confirmed the death of the “well known and much respected” member of staff.
Details of the individual and the prison they work at have not been released.
It is the first prison officer to die of the virus in Scotland. The Scottish Prison Service confirmed there were eight cases of Covid-19 in its jails.
HMP Perth was among the first to report an outbreak. At least two members of staff were signed off after displaying symptoms.
It is understood the prison officer who died worked at the Polmont Young Offenders Institute, but he did not contract the virus in jail.
A spokesman for POA Scotland said: “We are very sad to hear of the death of one our colleagues in the prison service today.
“It would not be appropriate for us to put their name in the public domain at this stage, there are family and close friends who should be respected more than anyone at this moment.”
He added: “This is our first staff member to lose their life from COVID-19 in the service here in Scotland, and our deepest condolences go to the family members who will be tonight, trying to come to terms with their enormous loss.
“The POA in Scotland offer our heartfelt sympathies to them all and want them to know they are all very much in our thoughts today.”
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the spokesman added: “Our colleague was a well-known, and much respected member of staff in the SPS and his loss is one that is deeply felt by very many colleagues across the estate.
“As front-line key workers involved in public service, all staff have known this day may well come, but it is none the less extremely painful and difficult for all in coming to terms with it today.”
He added: “The staff within our prisons are a close knit and supportive cohort, by necessity given the environment in which we all work.
“We rely on each other every day. A loss such as this is always going to be painful for colleagues for that reason, but it is also what will help us support each other through the inevitable difficult times, together.”
Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf paid tribute. “Deeply sad news,” he wrote in a tweet. “I know how much the Scottish Prison Service family will be feeling this loss.
“My thoughts very much with the family, friends and colleagues of this prison officer.”
Scottish Prison Service spokesman Tom Fox added: “We are all deeply moved and saddened by the tragic death of our colleague. Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones.”
He said: “Normally when a staff member dies in service then fellow staff would have an opportunity to pay their respects and show their support. I am sure that this will happen at a later date when it is possible for people to do so.”
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