Maplehurst jail on lockdown with 89 'active' cases of COVID-19
Number of confirmed infections grew by 20 in just 1 day, up from 69 on Thursday
The Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, Ont. is under lockdown as it works to curb a fast-spreading outbreak of COVID-19 that's infected 89 inmates and staff.
As of Friday evening, there are 68 active cases of the novel coronavirus among inmates and another 21 cases among staff, according to Ontario's Ministry of the Solicitor General.
That's an increase of 20 cases in just one day, up from 69 cases on Thursday.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the Maplehurst Correctional Complex remains locked down to facilitate contact tracing and reduce the spread of infection, however inmates are able to individually access showers and telephones," ministry spokesperson Andrew Morrison told CBC News.
The ministry says it is working with the local health unit in Halton Region to carry out contact tracing and voluntary testing of inmates and staff, as well as to determine whether the lockdown can be lifted or if it will need to be extended.
How long the lockdown is expected to be in place, the ministry would not say.
Staff have 'a great deal of concern'
Inmates who test positive for COVID-19 are put under "droplet precautions" and isolated from the rest of the inmates while they receive medical care, the ministry says.
Peter Figliola, president of the OPSEU Local 234, the union representing correctional officers at the Milton jail, told CBC News he'd like to see all new admissions and court appearances stopped completely until the outbreak is under control.
"I am sure all staff within the facility have some fear and a great deal of concern. They are walking into an identified outbreak and doing so with the best intentions in keeping the community safe," Figliola said.
The ministry says the jail has secure video services so that inmates can appear in court virtually without having to leave the facility, but would not confirm that no inmates will be brought to court as jail officials work to stop the spread of the virus.
"The ministry continues to work with the Halton Region public health unit and its justice sector partners on a daily basis to ensure local public health protocols are followed to reduce the risk of infection in the community and at the correctional facility," Morrison said.
Meanwhile, Figliola says correctional officers continue their work "and do so knowing the identified danger that awaits them on the other side of the wall."
"We've always said from day one that once the virus entered any provincial facility, it would be extremely hard to combat and control."
With files from Shanifa Nasser