Toronto

Brampton jail shutting down after 60 inmates, 8 staff test positive for COVID-19

The province confirmed in an email statement to CBC Toronto that it was forced to close the facility due to its "dormitory style setting" and that it will need a deep cleaning before it can re-open.

Ontario government has been trying to reduce the number of people behind bars in last month

Inmates from the Brampton jail will be moved to the Toronto South Detention Centre, pictured here. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

The Ontario government is shutting down a Brampton jail after at least 60 inmates and eight workers there tested positive for COVID-19. 

The province confirmed in an email statement to CBC Toronto that it was forced to close the facility due to its "dormitory style setting" and that it will need a deep cleaning before it can re-open.

The hundreds of inmates at the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton will be moved to the  Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC). That move is already taking place. 

Union leader Warren "Smokey" Thomas, who represents staff at the facility, said employees are being told to self-isolate for two weeks.​​​​​

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province's associate chief medical officer of health, confirmed Monday there is an increased risk of the novel coronavirus spreading in correctional facilities. 

Speaking to reporters at a news conference, Yaffe said there is not broad COVID-19 testing in jails at this time, but suggested that may be coming.

However, she said, once someone has a confirmed case of the virus, follow-up contact-tracing is taking place. "There is testing around cases," she told said at Queen's Park, where health leaders revealed the latest modelling around the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario. 

Toronto detention centre has also had confirmed cases

Toronto South has also had concerns about COVID-19 behind its walls. At least three inmates and one staff member have been among Ontario's 10,000-plus cases. 

However, a spokesperson for the province's solicitor general said the facility will be able to handle the situation.

"TSDC, our newest facility, has a modern healthcare unit with medical isolation units and appropriate resources, to effectively manage and support inmates with COVID-19," said Kristy Denette in a statement.

Denette added the Toronto facility does have the capacity to house the inmates from Brampton.

Meanwhile, the Ontario government is taking steps to release more inmates to stop the virus from spreading in correctional facilities.

As of April 9, the province had released more than 2,300 inmates to create more space within its jails, while also giving temporary absence passes to intermittent offenders who would normally spend only weekends in custody.

The government has also suspended personal visits to jails during the pandemic.

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