Coronavirus: Prison visits suspended during outbreak

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Image caption, Two prison officers were injured in an incident at HMP Addiewell, the justice secretary confirmed

Prison visiting has been suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the justice secretary has confirmed.

Humza Yousaf also said he could not rule out releasing some prisoners early to ensure the safety of inmates and prison staff.

He told MSPs that prisoners showing Covid-19 symptoms were self-isolating.

Mr Yousaf said an incident at HMP Addiewell in which two officers were injured showed the pressures on the prison system.

The Daily Record earlier reported that the privately-run jail's Forth D wing had been "smashed up" by prisoners and an officer had been stabbed.

The paper also published a video, apparently taken inside the jail, showing inmates brandishing weapons and with a prison officer's ID card.

Mr Yousaf told MSPs: "We cannot rule out releasing prisoners if that is in the best interests of keeping the establishments safe... that is something that will be actively explored."

He said the Scottish Prison Service was working on other options as a matter of urgency to maintain and support family relationships, including establishing a dedicated family helpline.

He later tweeted that he hoped the helpline would operational within days rather than weeks.