Parklea prison cluster jumps to 169

Sheree Regan is worried about her son Jayelem, who has tested positive for COVID at Parklea prison.
Sheree Regan is worried about her son Jayelem, who has tested positive for COVID at Parklea prison.

A COVID-19 cluster at a private prison in Sydney's north west has escalated to 169 cases, including 159 inmates.

That includes 38 new cases diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

One of the 159 inmates to catch COVID-19 at the jail is Sheree Regan's 18-year-old son, Jayelem.

"I am devastated. I am very, very heartbroken," Ms Regan said about her son's diagnosis.

Though Jayelem normally calls his mother every day, she hasn't been able to speak to him in more than two weeks.

She is particularly concerned because he is Aboriginal and has a weak immune system. But she has no idea what kind of care he's receiving in the prison.

"They said at the moment he's got no symptoms, if he worsens they'll take him to a hospital," Ms Regan said.

"That's it, that's the only thing they've told me."

She is concerned he won't be receiving the same care as those in the community would be receiving.

"How do I know that they have got someone there to help my son while he's got COVID when they won't even let me speak to him?" she said.

"I need to speak to my son to make sure that he has got the help he needs."

Jayelem has not been vaccinated, despite being in custody since July last year.

Ms Regan doesn't know if he's receiving his medication for other health conditions.

On top of the Parklea cases, there are at least 66 more patients in state-run prisons, with 26.1 per cent of patients there fully vaccinated. Some 37.8 per cent have had at least one dose.

A targeted vaccination program in the state's public prisons will attempt to increase those numbers over the next two weeks.

"When adult inmates are identified as COVID-19 positive in NSW public prisons, it is Network protocol to move them to a central location at the Silverwater Correctional Complex, where they can be kept separate from the rest of the prison population, their care can be properly managed and they can be near a tertiary hospital in case it is needed," said a Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network spokesperson.

"Private prisons such as Parklea are required to manage their COVID-19 positive inmates at their centre."

Australian Associated Press