The Prison Service has reduced the number of prison visits and the length of time visitors can see inmates as part of its response to the coronavirus.

Children are now prohibited from visiting the prisons and each inmate is only allowed one visitor a week for 15 minutes. Previously it was two half hour visits a week with up to three adults and no limits on children.

A number of prisoners, including 12 in the Dóchas Centre, are now in isolation but so far no case of Covid-19 has been identified in any of the country's jails.

Overall, 236 inmates have been granted temporary release because of the outbreak bringing the total on temporary release to 579.

The numbers in the prison system have been reduced from 4,235 two weeks ago to 3,910 in the last two weeks.

The Prison Service says it expects the numbers in custody to drop further in the next few weeks as committals from the courts have reduced and more inmates complete their sentences and are released.

Social distancing is operational in the prisons but is not possible everywhere for reasons of security and accommodation. 

Seven hundred cells in the country’s prisons contain two or more inmates.

The Government has directed that social distancing be enacted where practicable in prison as well as in long term care facilities, homeless shelters and psychiatric institutions.