British Columbia

Correctional Service of Canada says 2 inmates in Mission have COVID-19

Two inmates at a prison in Mission, B.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Correctional Service of Canada. It says all inmates are in self-isolation to prevent the spread of the virus.

CSC says all inmates are self-isolating, cleaning efforts have been enhanced to prevent spread

The Mission Institution in B.C. is a minimum and medium-security federal penitentiary. Two inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in the medium-security facility. (Google Maps)

Two inmates at a prison in Mission, B.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).

It says all inmates are in self-isolation to prevent the spread of the virus and cleaning efforts have been ramped up at the federal institution, which houses inmates in minimum and medium security areas. There are close to 350 inmates between the two sites. The infections occurred in the medium security facility.

The CSC says it is following guidance from public health officials to increase physical distancing, enhance hygiene practices, and have people at the prison self-monitor their health.

"We have hygiene measures in place to prevent the spread of viruses, and also cleaning, disinfecting, and proper laundry and waste disposal processes," the CSC said in a statement.

It also said doctors and nurses are available to monitor and assess inmates who develop symptoms. Test results for nine other inmates in the medium security facility have come back negative.

All visits to inmates, work releases for inmates, and transfers have been suspended. The CSC has also suspended programming and non-essential work at all prisons. 

The two cases in Mission follow another case announced Thursday at the Okanagan Correctional Centre near Oliver, B.C. It was the first outbreak of COVID-19 at a jail in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Saturday that there were no additional confirmed infections at that facility.

Union concerned

Meanwhile, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says it is concerned about the health of its members who are working in Mission.

It says stocks of personal protection equipment (PPE) are running low.

"PPE requirements to perform our work safely continue to be a source of anxiety among the membership," said a statement from the union.

In a release, the union is asking the CSC to do more at institutions to protect workers and inmates, such as routinely taking peoples' temperatures.

It also wants the federal government to provide each federal penitentiary with test kits for essential staff members who are deemed at risk.

The union does not agree with an idea to release some inmates from facilities to try to curb the spread of COVID-19. It says releasing inmates could endanger other Canadians.

The Correctional Service of Canada is keeping a running tally of COVID-19 cases at its institutions.

As of April 3, it said there had been 12 positive tests for COVID-19 at federal correctional institutions across the country. Twenty tests were still pending out of 112.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated there were two COVID-19 cases at the Okanagan Correctional Centre. In fact, testing has only found one case.
    Apr 05, 2020 12:24 PM PT

With files from Cory Correia

now