A team of prison transport staff in Perth have been grounded after a coronavirus alert.
The Fair City’s GEOAmey officers, who take vanloads of inmates to and from HMP Perth, have been forced to self-isolate after they were pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app.
It comes as the number of confirmed cases at locked down Perth Prison continues to climb.
A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said on Thursday that 124 prisoners have now tested positive – up from 97 at the end of last week.
Meanwhile, a total of 18 staff are also infected, with a further 15 in isolation.
Officers from women’s prison Corton Vale have been drafted in to help manage the prison, while all 620 inmates are placed under strict lockdown conditions.
Restrictions are expected to ease over the weekend, as the first wave of prisoners emerge from 10 days of isolation.
Temporary set-up for custody cases
Measures were put in place to process custody cases while Perth’s GEOAmey team quarantined.
A spokesman said: “A number of Perth based staff were contacted by the NHS Scotland app and instructed to self-isolate.
“Thus far, none have returned a positive test.”
He said: “As there was no prearranged business at Perth Sheriff Court on Thursday, an agreement was made with Criminal Justice Partners to leave a small number of staff at Perth to cover any unplanned activity that arises throughout the day and to move a small number of overnight cases to Dundee.”
Among those affected was shoplifter Marcus Keep who was remanded on Monday for stealing £180 worth of drink from a Perth corner shop.
He was due to return to court on Thursday for sentencing, after admitting breaking into the offices of Shepherd Chartered Surveyors in 2019 and making off with a two fire extinguishers and a calculator.
A video link-up with Perth Sheriff Court was cancelled after the 20-year-old was forced into self-isolation after being transferred by GEOAmey staff earlier in the week, solicitor John McLaughlin said.
It is understood most of those affected by the latest HMP Perth outbreak are symptomless.
No one has been hospitalised.
A spokeswoman said: “We continue to manage the outbreak in HMP Perth.
“There are currently 124 confirmed cases of Covid amongst those in our care at HMP Perth.
“A significant number of these individuals are asymptomatic positives.”
She added: “As a precautionary measure, all individuals living in HMP Perth are currently isolating.
“This means that those in custody do not have access to courts or agents visits, family visits or the gymnasium at the moment.
“Individuals have access to open air and showers, as well as their mobile phones and the hall phones.”
She added: “We continue to work closely with Public Health colleagues in the relevant health boards in managing these cases.”
It is understood that a recent death at the jail – 45-year-old inmate James Gorrie – is not coronavirus-related.