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Two prison guards from troubled Mission Institution test positive for COVID-19

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Apr 9, 2020 at 7:25 pm PDT

FILE - Patches are seen on the arm and shoulder of a corrections officer in the segregation unit at the Fraser Valley Institution for Women during a media tour, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday October 26, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Summary

The guards work at the Mission Institution, a medium-security faciltiy where 14 inmates have already tested positive

Mission is the only federal prison in B.C. where guards have contracted the virus

more than 50 cases have been recorded at three facilities in Quebec and one at an institution in Ontario

MISSION (NEWS 1130) — Two prison guards have tested positive for COVID-19 at a federal institution in Mission where an outbreak among inmates has already occurred.

Noémi Desrochers, with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, confirmed, in an email, the two positive guard tests.

The guards work at the Mission Institution, which has medium- and minimum-security facilities. On the medium-security side, 14 inmates have already tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Mission is the only federal prison in B.C. where guards have been confirmed to have the virus, although more than 50 cases have been recorded at three facilities in Quebec and one at an institution in Ontario.

Of the 50 in Quebec, 33 are at the Joliette Institution for Women.

The 14 inmates with COVID-19 at Mission was the highest total at a federal facility in Canada, as of Wednesday, according to Correctional Service Canada.

An additional case was reported at the Pacific Regional Treatment Centre. An inmate from Mission received a positive diagnosis after being moved to the medical facility.

The Joliette Institution in Quebec had 10. The Grand Valley Institution for Women in Ontario had eight.

Face masks were to be provided to staff and inmates at prisons across Canada earlier this week, according to the union.

Mission Institution was locked down last weekend after the outbreak occurred and safety protocols were implemented, including medically isolating inmates who show symptoms of COVID-19, as well as removing them from the general population to prevent the spread of infection, along with hygiene and cleaning measures.

On Wednesday, government medical professionals said Canada’s jails and prisons don’t meet physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19 and wanted as many inmates as possible to be released.

The same day, an infectious disease doctor who works at the Mission Institution warned the inmate population was on track for an “explosive” outbreak if more wasn’t done to contain the virus.

Last week, a provincial prison in the Okanagan also reported a COVID-19 outbreak.