Loading articles...

Prison outbreak has Mission mayor worried about infections in community

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 1:17 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)

At least 65 inmates at Mission Institution have tested positive for the virus, so far

The district was not notified when the outbreak was first discovered: mayor

Work is underway to test every single inmate at the prison

MISSION (NEWS 1130) — With the largest COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison occurring in her district, the mayor of Mission says she’s worried about someone in the community getting infected.

“Of course it’s extremely concerning for the District of Mission,” Mayor Pam Alexis tells NEWS 1130. “Corrections is actually our third largest employer in Mission, so there are a terrific number of people who are employed at both institutions that live in the community.”

At least 65 inmates at Mission Institution have tested positive for the virus, so far. One of them died last week because of apparent complications from COVID-19, while 21 have recovered.

At least 10 correctional officers, plus another staff member have also tested positive.

Alexis says her focus is protecting people in the community, adding the main worry is an outbreak.

“Certainly, that’s the concern, and so that’s why, for us, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you wash your hands, that you keep your physical distance, that you do all the things necessary to protect yourself,” she says.

“I can’t control what goes on inside the institution, as it’s federally run. But I can, of course, do whatever I can do, to protect our citizens.”

The outbreak at the medium-security prison, which has close to 300 inmates, according to Corrections Canada, was first publically revealed almost three weeks ago. Alexis says she and the district were not notified when the outbreak was first discovered.

“No, we weren’t and … we had to work to actually receive contact and information and that,” she says. “For years, we’ve had them as part of our community, and so we really had hoped for a little bit more communication initially.”

But, she adds, now the district is getting briefed regularly, and all levels of government are in constant communication on how to best address the outbreak.

“I’m hopeful that, moving forward, lines of communication include reaching out to, you know, local government, provincial government etc., because we’re not in it alone. We’re in it together,” Alexis says.

“I think after this is over, I’m sure there will be some sort of a review of their practices.”

Work is underway to test every single inmate at the prison, she adds, regardless of whether or not they’re showing symptoms.