Calgary

Calgary inmate confirmed as 1st case of COVID-19 in an Alberta correctional facility

An inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first time a case has been reported at an Alberta correctional facility.

New inmate at Calgary Remand Centre had no symptoms upon arrival to the facility

A new inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre has tested positive for COVID-19. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

An inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first time a case has been reported at an Alberta correctional facility.

Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the inmate was new to the facility and had no symptoms upon arrival.

"I want to share this information today, both because this is the first case we have had in the province in a correctional facility, and also because it is a story of how all precautions were taken," Hinshaw said.

The individual was admitted directly to the quarantine unit in the facility upon arrival. He was quarantined with one cellmate who was admitted at the same time and who also had no symptoms, Hinshaw said.

The inmate reported feeling unwell the next night, at which point both he and his cellmate were placed in isolation and the symptomatic inmate was swabbed, Hinshaw said.

"All inmates are assessed for exposure and symptoms upon admission to the facility or transfer from another location, as well as, at minimum, once per day while in the centre," Hinshaw said. "Any inmate who develops symptoms is moved to isolation."

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in an Alberta correctional facility on Friday. (Art Raham/CBC)

Hinshaw said inmates are now in isolation and the facility has implemented outbreak processes.

Preventative measures

In a statement sent to CBC News on April 27, Dan Laville, a spokesperson for Alberta Justice, said preventative measures were underway to mitigate spread of COVID-19 in provincial correctional facilities.

Laville said some of those measures include:

  • Making hand sanitizer available to inmates in the admissions and discharge areas, and soap and water in holding cells.
  • Increasing inmate admission screening questions.
  • Placing informational signage throughout facilities.
  • Increasing physical distancing measures.
  • Bringing inmates with cold and flu symptoms to a sink to wash their hands with soap and water, then providing them with a mask and gloves before following up with AHS as to next steps.
  • Placing inmates with a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19 in an infirmary unit in isolation.

In March, Ontario Senator Kim Pate called on officials to consider the release of inmates to help prevent a potential COVID-19 prison "disaster."

That same month, Alberta Justice moved some convicted people to house arrest who would have otherwise served the custody portion of their sentences on weekends.

With files from Rachel Ward

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