38 inmates at coronavirus-plagued Mission Institution now recovered, CSC says

Correctional Services Canada says 38 of the over 100 inmates at a federally-run prison in B.C. who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus have now recovered.

The medium-security Mission Institution continues to see the most serious outbreak of COVID-19 within a Canadian correctional facility. One inmate has already died from symptoms believed to be related to the disease, which was the first such instance in the country.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Saturday that 40 new cases had been identified at the prison after every inmate and staff member was tested.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 95 new coronavirus cases, death toll hits 100

As of Saturday, 106 inmates and 12 correctional officers have now tested positive for the coronavirus, Henry said. Two of those inmates are in hospital, she added, down from six earlier this month.

The number represents over a third of the nearly 300 inmates currently housed at the medium-security site.

The CSC said in a statement issued Saturday that its staff are working “diligently, and often around the clock” to prevent further spread of the outbreak.

1:56Coronavirus outbreak at Mission Institution

Coronavirus outbreak at Mission Institution

Positive cases are being isolated from the rest of the prison population, it said, and all staff and inmates have been issued masks and gloves.

The prison also brought in experts to review its control and prevention measures, the CSC continued, and has taken those experts’ recommendations to install additional hand-washing stations and increased hygiene supplies.

Inmates are given opportunities to leave their cells daily for phone calls and showers, according to officials.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has said the high number of positive cases within the prison, which remains locked down, has also made it nearly impossible to separate those cases from the general inmate population.

READ MORE: Issues continue to plague coronavirus-ravaged B.C. prison, officers’ union says

It also continues to call for more personal protective equipment for staff members, many of whom have no choice but to be within six feet of each other and the inmates.

Henry said Saturday that controlling the outbreak has been an ongoing challenge. She has repeatedly noted that testing and control measures were not introduced quickly enough to limit the spread, forcing officials to play “catch-up.”

She also said Saturday that the prison is a “very difficult environment” to isolate people from each other, particularly as the number of infected people have climbed into the dozens.

“It has been a challenging process; I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” she said. “It’s a very challenging thing to be able to support people who are in that type of communal setting and to try and prevent transmission and infection.”

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