Staff at 3 provincial jails test positive for COVID-19

Staff at Headingley Correctional Institution, Milner Ridge Correctional Centre and the Winnipeg Remand Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Exposures identified at Winnipeg Remand Centre, Headingley and Milner Ridge facilities

The Winnipeg Remand Centre, located at 141 Kennedy Street, is one of the correctional facilities where staff have tested positive for COVID-19. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The province has confirmed that staff at three provincial correctional facilities —  Headingley Correctional Institution, Milner Ridge Correctional Centre and the Winnipeg Remand Centre — have tested positive for COVID-19. 

"While the risk has been assessed as low, work is underway to conduct public health investigations and determine close contacts," a provincial spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC. 

At this time, no COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared in Manitoba correctional facilities, the spokesperson said. 

The province says it's a "small number of staff" who are infected and testing for inmates who may have been exposed is underway. 

The province did not provide details on the number of staff or inmates who tested positive. It also didn't answer CBC's questions of how social isolation is taking place within the correctional facilities. 

"Manitoba Justice has developed plans for when a staff person or inmate tests positive. In addition, facilities have introduced additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These are being initiated," the statement from the spokesperson reads. 

'This virus has no boundaries'

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU), which represents staff at the three facilities, said it is aware of the situation. 

"Obviously this is concerning to us, but this virus has no boundaries and silently attacks," a statement from MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said. 

"Staff at our correctional facilities are wearing PPE and are doing everything they can to ensure enhanced cleaning, sanitization and social distancing as much as possible," Gawronsky wrote. 

On Thursday, the province said staff at Milner Ridge Correctional Centre were notified about a corrections officer testing positive for COVID-19. 

A letter to all staff at the facility said public health officials conducted a full investigation and identified two potential exposures to the officer, who was asymptomatic at the time. The letter said the risk to other staff and inmates is considered low.

The Milner Ridge Correctional Centre is located 72 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The Headingley Correctional Institution is just west of the city and the Winnipeg Remand Centre is located at 141 Kennedy St.

According to data from the federal government, 53 inmates have been tested for COVID-19 at the Stony Mountain Institution, a federal correctional facility located 26 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. As of Oct. 7, no tests came back positive. Three inmates are still waiting for their test results.