A spike in coronavirus cases among Scotland's prison population has seen the number of people infected double in a week. 

New figures from the Scottish Prison Service have revealed that the number of virus cases among prisoners increased from 189 to 364.

The majority of cases have come from a major outbreak at HMP Kilmarnock, where 247 positive cases have now been recorded.

READ MORE: Prisoners allowed virtual visits and given phones to contact loved ones during pandemic

There are now 731 people self-isolating across 11 prisons due to Covid, the SPS said. The current Scottish prison population is 7,413.


Outbreaks have also been reported at HMP Addiewell in West Lothian (90 cases) and HMP Dumfries (25 cases).

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has renewed calls for a reduction in the prison population to help the system cope with the pandemic.

 READ MORE: Reducing prison populations stopped Covid-19 ‘explosion’

Scottish Labour justice spokesperson Rhoda Grant said: "At a time when reducing Covid-19 transmission is more important than ever, this surge in infections is concerning not only for the prison estate, but for Scotland as a whole.

"Scottish Labour has called for testing in prisons since the start of the pandemic, but progress has been too slow. We know this virus spreads quickly in institutional settings.

"The overcrowding in Scotland’s prisons greatly increases the risk of a large outbreak, which can subsequently spread into communities. Once again, we are seeing the consequences of the SNP's failure to get a grip on the longstanding problems of Scotland's prisons - not just for prisoners and staff, but for the whole of society."

The Scottish government said the wellbeing of prisoners was a priority and that outbreaks were being "well managed".

The SPS said in a statement: "We continue to work closely with public health colleagues in the relevant health boards in managing these cases.

"On the recommendation of the Incident Management Teams, mobile testing units have this week been working in HMP Dumfries, HMP Kilmarnock and HMP Addiewell to support the prompt identification of cases."