Inmate at London jail tests positive for COVID-19

An inmate at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, the Ministry of the Solictor General has confirmed.  

Health officials say the case may be a false positive

Two men in orange shorts and orange t-shirt walk beside a man in blue, in the shadow of large fences with barbed wire overtop.
One inmate from the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, the Ministry of Solicitor General has confirmed. (CBC)

Deep cleaning is taking place in a certain areas of the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) after an inmate tested positive for COVID-19. 

This is the first case of the virus the provincial jail has recorded over the course of the pandemic. The case also accounts for Middlesex-London's single new case reported Thursday by the health unit. 

"In cases where inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, immediate precautionary containment measures are taken, in accordance with operating procedures, including deep cleaning of impacted areas and notifying the local Medical Officer of Health as well as provincial health professionals," read a statement from Kristy Denette, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Solicitor General.  

Denette added that in addition to a partial lockdown to facilitate a deep clean at the facility, the jail is also working with public health officials to test inmates, including new admissions, for any additional cases of the virus.

Case may be a false positive, health official says

During a media briefing Thursday afternoon, Dr. Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said there's a possibility for the case to be a false positive, especially after universal testing was done at the facility and no individuals close to the inmate have tested positive for the virus. 

"So, in this situation where we know the prevalence is quite low to begin with and we find a positive in someone who doesn't have symptoms and no other contacts are positive either, it strongly suggests a false positive," he explained.

Regardless of the possibility, Dr. Mackie said the health unit is treating the case as a positive one and the inmate is being isolated. 

"We'll make sure that all appropriate protocols are being followed, that high-touch surfaces are being cleaned regularly, that all staff and inmates are monitoring for symptoms and anyone with symptoms comes forward for repeat testing," he said. 

Back in March, the province began implementing measures to limit the spread of the virus in correctional facilities, including releasing more than 2,000 inmates from Ontario jails. 

Additionally, several infection control measures have been taken at all jails across the province, according to the ministry. These include the use of personal protection equipment for all staff as needed, increased cleaning measures, temperature checks for staff and visitors, and isolating new inmates from the general population for 14 days.