Modelling the spread of COVID-19 in NSW prisons

The challenge: 

Prisons are traditional epicentres for infectious diseases, reflecting the largely unavoidable close contact in this setting. The prisons are therefore a high priority setting in the public health response to COVID-19.

The project: 

This project funded by Corrective Services NSW and the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network aims to develop NSW-specific mathematical models of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and COVID-19 progression within prisons and across the prison system. These models will be used to explore the potential impact of COVID-19 on prison inmates and staff in NSW and investigate the potential impact of prison-specific interventions.

The method: 

To conduct the analysis for this project, we will develop two epidemiological models for NSW prisons. The model development and analyses will be conducted in three phases of increasing model complexity. Using these models, we will perform detailed scenario analysis of the strategies and interventions implemented to prevent SARS-CoV-2 entering prisons and planned in response to SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurring in prisons.

The impact: 

The results from this work will inform the response of Corrective Services NSW and the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network to COVID-19 and help ensure appropriate preparations are in place for prisons to respond to SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks and the resulting COVID-19 burden. The models and methods we will develop will be applicable to prison settings in other Australian jurisdictions and international prison settings and our results could help inform the response in these settings.

Project contact: 
Senior Research Fellow and Group Leader, Mathematical Epidemiology and Evaluation Research Group
Project collaborators: 
  • Andrew Lloyd and Amy Kwon, Kirby Institute
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