Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Two inmates at Mission Institution have tested positive for COVID-19, marking the second positive case at a prison in B.C. in the past 48 hours.

Two other inmates have been tested for the novel coronavirus on Friday (April 3), but results are pending, the Correctional Service of Canada confirmed to Black Press Media.

All four inmates are currently in self-isolation.

“We are closely and carefully following direction from public health officials, while following strict protocols to avoid further spread in the institution,” the federal agency said. Nine other inmates were tested but those results came back negative for the virus.

RELATED: Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

RELATED: Should non-violent offenders be released from prison to avoid COVID-19 spread?

Fifteen corrections officers who were potentially exposed to the virus, are now self-isolating in their homes to await test results, according to a corrections officer who works at the facility.

The officer spoke to Black Press Media on the condition of anonymity.

“The institution is now on lockdown. [Management] is trying to minimize this the best they can, but up until the exposure the place was running – not as-per normal – but pretty close,” the officer said. “[They] stuck their heads in the sand up to this point.”

Concerns by staff and the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers have been raised over the lack of personal protective equipment, also referred to as PPE, available to staff while on the job.

“There was an inmate that went out to the hospital with escorting officers,” the correctional officer continued. “When they got to the hospital, the doctor was flabbergasted and disgusted, because the inmate was coughing and the officers were provided with no PPE.

“It’s been an issue to get our hands on it… but at this point, when we’re dealing with positive cases in the jail, we need that stuff.”

The corrections officer’s claims have been mirrored by other workers in federal facilities.

Rick Ghuman, the president of another federal prison, Matsqui Institution, said that nurses and correctional officers were “denied the ability to use PPE” when bringing new inmates into the prison on Friday.

The protocols are also being questioned by the inmates themselves, the correctional officer said.

“They all have TVs, they all watch the news,” they added. You can’t even enter Quebec, and in here, during the dining hall, you have 50 to 100 inmates sitting there, eating like nothings going on in the world… This place is treating it like it’s nothing.”

Black Press Media has reached out to Corrections Canada for comment.

Feds have requested Parole Board look into releasing non-violent inmates to prevent spread

Any inmate who shows symptoms that point to COVID-19 is isolated from the rest of the prison population, according to Correctional Service Canada. Public visits, transfers of prisoners and any non-essential work within facilities have been suspended across the country’s federal prison system to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

“We have hygiene measures in place to prevent the spread of viruses, and also cleaning, disinfecting, and proper laundry and waste disposal processes,” the agency said.

Five inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Ontario, according to Corrections Canada data. Seven more inmates have tested positive in Quebec, including five at the maximum-security Port-Cartier Institution, where serial killer Robert Pickton is serving a life sentence.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has asked the federal prison service and the parole board to look at early release for some offenders, following requests from advocates across the country to release non-violent offenders nearing their release date as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

But the union representing corrections officers doesn’t agree with this measure.

“The release of a few inmates would not solve the potential spread of COVID-19 in our facilities; it would only increase the risk for Canadians,” the union said in a statement.

“The focus must be on changing routines in our institutions to respect social distancing and self-isolation practices to every extent possible. Canada is in crisis, and its citizens are already dealing with a potentially deadly threat. It is irresponsible to introduce further threats into our communities.”

Instead, the union has called for the federal agency to implement a suite of measures in prisons where inmates have tested positive for the virus, including only allowing correctional officers who did not come into contact with infected inmates to be shifted, implementing enhanced cleaning protocols and taking daily temperature readings of all workers upon the start of their shift.

B.C. correctional centre also dealing with outbreak

Okanagan Correctional Centre, which is run by the provincial government, had the first B.C. inmate to test positive for COVID-19, which was announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday (April 2). Henry said that prisons were an area of concern and measures had been in place for weeks.

“It’s always challenging in these closed environments,” Henry said. “So I know the corrections team at Interior Health and PHSA (Provincial Health Services Authority) are working on this as we speak.”

Those measures include restricting visitors and doing health checks so those showing symptoms are tested for the virus.

New people entering such facilities are also being isolated for 14 days.

RELATED: Inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre tests positive for COVID-19

According to the company that built the Okanagan facility, the prison is approximately 29,000 square metres in total area, with 11 living units and 378 cells.

The inmate who tested positive is currently in isolation, and fellow inmates in close contact with the prisoner are being monitored.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read