Prisons are key settings for communicable diseases due to higher prevalence of risk factors for infection and actual infection, as well as environmental factors in prison such as unavoidable close contact, over-crowding, poor ventilation and limited access to healthcare services, compared to community settings.

Infections can be transmitted between prisoners, staff and visitors; between prisons through transfers and staff cross-deployment; and to and from the community. As such, prisons and other custodial settings are an integral part of the public health response to COVID-19.

Please find here links to guidance on managing COVID-19 in prisons and places of detention from various countries and organisations. If you have anything you would like to share on this page, please email

Please note that unfortunately we do not have a translation service for attached documents or links. 

Also, we remind you to check national and WHO websites for the most up to date information as the response to COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation

The Global Health Network also has its own Coronavirus Knowledge Hub which you may find useful.  


WHO Europe Webinar -  Prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons: What have we learned? 21 July from 16.00  to 17.40 CEST

In 2020, WHO HIPP has been working closely with Member States in the response to COVID-19, by developing an Interim Guidance on Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention and various related products to support countries in its implementation, including a checklist. As a result, Member States have been reporting their experiences gained during the pandemic and field work has been possible in some specific cases. WHO HIPP also been working closely with ECDC to set up a surveillance system to periodically collect a minimum set of indicators to monitor the evolution of COVID-19 specifically in prisons and other places of detention. The primary purpose of this webinar is:

• Present the WHO interim Guidance on Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID19 in prisons and other places of detention, highlighting its purpose, its main areas of applicability and most recent updates.

• Share country experiences gained from the pandemics and reflect on how these may be used to inspire good practices in different areas of activity, from prevention, to control, including essential services sustainability.

• Present the surveillance system developed jointly by WHO/ECDC and expand on its use to motivate countries to monitor the pandemic evolution in the prison setting

To sign up to join the event please register using the following the link:

The event will have simultaneous translation into Russian.


Health and Justice Lab Yale University Webinar - COVID-19 and Incarceration: An International Perspectiveon Disease Mitigation Strategies. This webinar brought together an international panel of experts to discuss innovative strategies for mitigating COVID-19 within correctional settings, including decarceration efforts, wastewater testing, and mobile technologies. The webinar took place on 8th July 2020, 9-11.30am, Eastern Standard Time. Click here for more information.


Justice Health Unit at The University of Melbourne webinar -  key challenges and sustainable responses to COVID-19 in prison, youth detention, and immigration detention settings. Speakers from WHO, ICRC, and UFSC in Brazil filmed on 8 July, 2020 7pm-8.30pm AEST (Melbourne). You can watch a recording of the webinar here 


ICPA Webinar - Staff Well-Being and Resilience in Correctional Environments

This webinar, filmed on 9th July 2020, explores the cumulative effects on staff working in correctional environments and how this is intensified during a pandemic. Panelists will also share strategies for:

  • Maintaining social responsibility
  • Building resilience
  • Supporting staff mental well-being
  • Building individual and organizational psychological capital
  • Supporting staff working in both secure facilities and community supervision
  • Phases of support

Watch this webinar here 


Psychological First Aid course

On Monday 15 June PHE launched  an updated Psychological First Aid (PFA) digital training module, aimed at all frontline and essential workers and volunteers. The course aims to increase awareness and confidence to provide psychosocial support to people affected by COVID-19. The course is free, and no previous qualifications are required. It takes around 90 minutes to complete and is also available in three sessions for the learner to complete at their own pace. By the end of the course, outcomes will include: understanding how emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic can affect us, recognising people who may be at increased risk of distress and understanding how to offer practical and emotional support. Although this course is not specific for prisons, it may be a useful starting point for prison healthcare and prison custodial staff to consider the mental health impact of COVID-19.


Communication tools for COVID-19 in prisons - UK

The Beyond Words team have been working on a COVID-19 pictorial toolkit with Dr Caroline Watson, Royal College of General Practioners' Clinical Champion for Healthcare in secure environments, and Mr Michael Emmett, a former prisoner. They have co-created a specific COVID-19 secure environments resource kit for use by healthcare teams, prison officers, education staff, chaplaincy teams and peer support workers over the coming months to support residents who find pictures more accessible than the written word. More information can be found here and you can watch Dr Watson introduce the resource below.




A Seven Country Report on COVID-19 in prisons

On May 7, 2020  a discussion with leaders in Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Jamaica, Malawi, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago was recorded on the steps that have been and/or need to be taken to protect children and adults detained in police lockups, remand centres and correctional centres as the pandemic spread in their countries.



Conversations on Coronavirus - a series of short films from a national public health agency on active response to COVID-19 in prisons (Public Health England)

Every Friday lunchtime for the next few weeks, Public Health England's Health and Justice team will give you an insight into their work as a public health agency and the actions they are taking with partners to manage the outbreak of COVID-19 in prisons.




Country level documents:

France: attached document

Public Health England:; population management strategies (HMPPS):

Italy: attached documents


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA:


Information hubs:

Europris are also collecting policies/regulations by European prison authorities:

European Prison Observatory - Report on COVD-19 in European Prisons

Association for the Prevention of Torture has a new portal of documents from around the world -

COVID-19 prisons - a website compiling the measures taken by prison administrations around the world to respond to the difficulties posed by the new coronavirus.


Guidance and reports from organisations:

Penal Reform International - Coronavirus: Healthcare and the human rights of people in prison 

International Corrections and Prisons Association - Collection of COVID-19 resources from around the world

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT): Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in English, French and Russian

WHO - Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention: interim guidance and Frequently Asked Questions.


National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) of Argentina (National Committee for the Prevention of Torture) (attached document)

AMEND Resources from University of California, San Francisco including a webinar for correctional staff and for people in prison

Royal College of General Practitioners - resource hub for practitioners  and a patient guide for people in prison 

UNODC - policy documents on drug treatment etc in prisons 

EMCDDA - Trendspotter briefing: impact of COVID-19 on patterns of drug use and drug-related harms in Europe

ECDC - Guidance on infection and control of COVID-19 in prisons.  


Published articles of interest:

Lancet Public Health - commentary piece on why prisons need to be part of a COVID-19 response

Forensic Science International Mind and Law -  Caring for persons in detention suffering with mental illness during the COVID-19 outbreak 

The Lancet - World Report on Prisons are in "no way equipped" to deal with COVID-19 

The Lancet - Preventing major outbreaks of COVID-19 in jails

The Lancet - Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of prisoners

Journal of Public Health - Establishing prison-led contact tracing to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons in Ireland

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report - Serial Laboratory Testing for SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Incarcerated and Detained Persons in a Correctional and Detention Facility — Louisiana, April–May 2020


Press reports:

The World Prison Brief database now has a regularly updated page of information on COVID19 in prisons worldwide and contains news articles we've been able to source so far, organised by region and country, along with guidance, reports and other initiatives.

Prison Insider is also collating reports on COVID-19 in prisons


The perspective of experts by experience of prison and COVID-19:

Read Sue Wheatcroft's blog on The effects of isolation: Prison versus Coronavirus lockdown in the community

Peer Power, a social justice charity supporting young people in the justice system, has produced with its Peer Leaders the following information film on COVID-19. For more information see this article



Generic COVID-19 portals for information (not prison specific):

ECDC - website on COVID-19

ECDC - Threat Reports App

WHO - website with information and guidance on COVID-19 and official COVID-19 page

WHO - COVID-2019 Situation reports


COVID-19 Online Libraries

WHO - Global research on COVID-19. Database of publications on COVID-19.

LitCovid - curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about COVID-19.

EPPI Centre - COVID-19: a living systematic map of the evidence.

Cochrane - Special collections on COVID-19