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Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that HM Courts & Tribunals Service received reports of confirmed Covid-19 cases among staff, judges, jurors and court users based at 95 court sites in less than a month.

The figures were announced in response to the shadow minister for courts and sentencing, Alex Cunningham, asking the department how many coronavirus cases were confirmed from 26 January to the most recent day.

Courts minister Chris Philp said the positive test figures were in line with the national picture, and that ‘no assumptions’ could be made around the transmission within a court setting:

“Due to the time taken for individuals to take a test, receive test results, and then communicate this to HMCTS (which is then recorded against the date initially reported) further cases may be added after the time of publishing. 

“All other court sites have not reported any new cases between these dates. There should be no assumption that a positive case indicates that there has been transmission within a court building.”

Speaking to The Law Society Gazette, Mr Cunningham said the government needed to take decisive action to prevent legal practitioners and court users from putting their health at risk:

“The government must rapidly increase the provision of Nightingale courts, begin the immediate rollout of testing in courts, and temporarily reduce the size of juries. There is no more time for pilots and tinkering at the edges – these changes must be made now so that justice can be done.”