COVID outbreak at Calgary jail continues spread as 70 inmates now infected

Seventy inmates at the Calgary Correctional Centre are now infected with COVID-19.

Multiple infected inmates told CBC News this week that they had been moved into solitary confinement

There are now 87 positive cases of COVID-19 at the Calgary Correctional Centre, including 70 inmates. (Submitted by Lamont Boucherville; Google Maps)

Seventy inmates at the Calgary Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19, according to new numbers provided by Alberta Health Services.

As of Wednesday, 70 inmates and 17 staff members have tested positive. Five inmates who had tested positive previously have been released from the facility and are isolating at home, as they had completed their court-mandated sentences.

Earlier this week, multiple infected inmates said they had been moved into "the hole" — otherwise known as solitary confinement or administrative segregation — and were living through inhumane conditions.

"It's making me feel worried, and lose hope, and I'm worried about my family," one inmate said earlier this week. "I feel like I'm stuck here to die."

Linda, whom CBC News agreed to use a pseudonym for as she fears repercussions for her loved one in the jail should he be identified, said the new numbers reported Wednesday were frightening.

"I'm sick to my stomach," she said.

Linda's loved one is in the facility for a non-violent crime. She said he still hasn't been able to wash his hands, and it has been two weeks since the prisoners had their laundry done.

"I'm not saying that these guys are innocent by any means, or that they should have some glorified place to live," she said. "But they need flushing toilets. They need food. They need clean laundry, hot showers and fresh air."

According to AHS, the increase in inmate case numbers primarily emerged after inmates who previously tested negative were re-swabbed on Tuesday.

In a statement provided to CBC News on Sunday, a spokesperson for Alberta Justice Minster Kaycee Madu said staff and inmates at the facility were being encouraged to raise their concerns, and corrective action was being taken as needed.

Alberta reported four more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, and again broke the record for active cases of the illness.