55 COVID cases now reported at Calgary jail as in-facility spread confirmed

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55 COVID cases now reported at Calgary jail as in-facility spread confirmed

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a Calgary jail has now jumped to 55 cases, a notable increase after the outbreak was initially reported Thursday.

On Thursday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced that 24 cases had been confirmed at the Calgary Correctional Centre. 

As of Friday, 50 inmates and five staff members have tested positive, Alberta Health Services spokeperson James Wood said. 

Wood said the cases are linked to transmission of COVID-19 within the facility in northwest Calgary.

“Isolation and monitoring of the positive cases is underway as per public health direction,” Wood said in an email. “All inmates and staff are being tested for COVID-19.”

The inmate population at the Calgary Correctional Centre can change on a day-to-day basis but the facility has a capacity of 427.

Wood said contract tracing for anyone potentially exposed is ongoing, and all inmate units are currently isolated.

“All movement between units has been suspended, as are transfers [and] admissions in or out of the facility,” Wood said. “Infection prevention and control measures are in place including enhanced cleaning and PPE protection.”

Staff within the jail are screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their shifts, Wood said.

All inmates are monitored and assessed twice daily, and at this time are reporting mild symptoms.  

Speaking Thursday when 24 cases were announced, Edmonton-based criminal defence lawyer Tom Engel said he was concerned the jail was entering a dangerous situation.

“They have to reduce the population immediately. Alberta was doing pretty well at the outset. But this isn’t working anymore, so they have to go to the next level,” he said.

There were 1,260 active COVID cases in Calgary as of Thursday, up from 1,174 reported on Wednesday.

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