COVID-19: 15 corrections officers test positive at federal prison in Quebec

A COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison in Quebec has seen 15 staff members and four inmates test positive for the novel coronavirus, as the surge in new cases across Canada has also hit Canada’s correctional facilities.

Correctional Services Canada revealed the outbreak of infections at the medium-security La Macaza Institution on Thursday as it reported a total of 88 new cases among federal inmates across Canada.

That represents a dramatic increase over the 17 reported just a week ago, and follows other outbreaks in recent days at the Nova Scotia Institution for Women and the Warkworth Institution near Campbellford, Ont.

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Despite the large number of staff infected with COVID-19 at La Macaza, Correctional Services spokeswoman Marie Pier Lecuyer said the 240-inmate facility had enough officers to continue operating in a safe manner.

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“Staffing levels at La Macaza Institution are currently adequate to ensure the safe operations of the facility,” she said in an email. “Staffing levels for all institutions are regularly reviewed to ensure appropriate resources are available to manage operational requirements.”

The Quebec government this week unveiled plans to let some essential workers, including those in public security roles, remain on the job even after testing positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Correctional Services says all in-person visits to La Macaza have been temporarily suspended and that measures are being taken to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through the facility.

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Correctional Services says it has started administering boosters to the 82 per cent of federal inmates who are fully vaccinated, while 86.1 per cent have received at least one dose.

News of the outbreak at La Macaza came the same day Correctional Services reported an inmate at the minimum-security Federal Training Centre in Laval, Que., had died on Christmas Day.

The agency did not provide a cause of death for 52-year-old Daniel Gendron, who had been serving an indeterminate sentence for kidnapping, unlawful confinement and holding for ransom with a firearm since June 2013.

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“As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, Correctional Service Canada will review the circumstances,” the agency said in a statement. “CSC policy requires that the police and the coroner be notified.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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