Detained at B.C. prison, says massive response to COVID-19 epidemic was “not nice at all”


An inmate at the site of the largest federal prison COVID-19 epidemic in Canada, says the facility official wasted weeks in responding to the rapidly spreading health crisis, and even slowed progress even further. suppress rising fears.The inmate, whose international news is not identifying to ensure his safety, is among the 120 inmates at Mission Institution in BC Fraser Valley who has been infected with the new coronavirus earlier this year. About a dozen staff members also tested positive before the outbreak was declared on May 28, and one of the detainees died of the disease.

The forced release of the prison to go to lockdown in early April, which remains largely in place to prevent future cases within the institution.

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Although he had a slight case, the inmate said that he was having trouble breathing and lost his sense of taste and smell. However, he does not have to learn that he has been positive until weeks of the epidemic.

“They said they don’t have enough (tests),” he told Global News. “I kept telling them, I was in touch with someone (infected) before the lock, and they didn’t want to give me a try. I wrote the requests and just complained everyday.

“They tested me maybe three weeks in it. I tested negative at first, and I asked them for another, and I tested positive. “

Coronavirus outbreak at Mission Institution

Coronavirus outbreak at Mission Institution

While waiting for the results of his tests, he said he watched as detainees around him were infected, often severely.

“Day after day, there were people going to the hospital in my unit,” he said. “They were taken on stretchers. It was pretty serious. “

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Despite the growing number of infections, the inmate said employees have been slow to put the necessary physical-distance measures in place. The detainees were still gathered in the food and health-care areas of the prison, he said, which allowed the virus to spread.

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The inmate said he believes he got the virus from a correctional officer or a health care worker who themselves may have contracted someone in the prison.

Lawyer alleges unsafe conditions, more COVID-19 cases than reported to B. C. Mission of the Institution

Once the prison finally locked – confining the detainees to their cells and isolating those who were infected – conditions deteriorated quickly, the detainee said.

“For the first two weeks, they were just giving us two meals a day, and it was at different times, so we’re hungry all day,” he said. “We also don’t get any showers or phone calls. No lawyer called, nothing.

“These few weeks have been really not good at all, in fact. It was like they were treating us like we did something wrong. ”

The inmate said he also heard from a correctional officer who before the lockdown, the guard told staff not to bring their own personal protective equipment because “they did not want to scare us by wearing it.”

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Calls for faster action to stop COVID-19 from spreading in prisons

Calls for faster action to stop COVID-19 from spreading in prisons

Conditions have steadily improved as the lock went on, the detainee said.

Meals were delivered to inmate cells became more regular, he explained, and more precautions were put in place to ensure that no contact with staff during these deliveries.

Detainees are also allowed to go out for 20 minutes a day for showers and telephone calls, when early detainees said they would be released for as little as five minutes.

But he said that being isolated for most of the day for more than two months, took a toll on his mental health.

“I’m only scared,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen here.”

All virus inmates hit by the prison B.C. to be tested for coronavirus: the Fraser health authority

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In late April, Canada’s prison mediator Ivan Zinger said the strict isolation of detainees is a violation of their human rights, even during a pandemic. At the time, he said prison authorities had tagged approximately 400 detainees under some form of medical segregation in facilities across Canada, which Zinger called “very disturbing.”

The account holder is similar to that shared with World News in April by Jennifer Metcalfe, a B.C. lawyer who has several clients incarcerated at Mission Institution.

Metcalfe said at the time that it had heard concerns from its customers about a lack of testing, sporadic meals and little or no time for showering or phone calls.

“The whole situation is completely out of control,” she told Global News at the time, which was less than two weeks after the prison was locked.

Metcalfe also raised concerns about staff not giving gloves or masks at any given time, saying they had been issued only protective gear “recently.”

COVID-19: Prevention of prison outbreaks in Canada

COVID-19: Prevention of prison outbreaks in Canada

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers spent the first weeks of the epidemic on Mission also voiced concerns about this before the train was finally scheduled.

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The Correctional Service of Canada maintained that all necessary health and safety measures were followed as soon as cases were identified within the prison.

Cleaning has been increased in all areas of the facility, officials and staff have received strict instructions to limit the transmission of COVID-19.

Officials also insisted that inmates only received three meals a day and a large shower and telephone park time.

Questions continue to plague coronavirus ravaged by B.C. prison, union leadership says

In a statement to World News following the inmate’s interview, Deputy Director Sheila Bonn’s Mission Establishment said that the employees remain in close contact with the Fraser health authority, the local health authority. response, and we are working with Health Canada on safety measures.

“We are currently transitioning from our lockout doctor to providing more inmate travel within the institution,” Bonn said, adding that all staff are provided with masks and that enhanced cleaning measures for stay in place.

“Our protocol is to medically isolate inmates with symptoms of COVID-19, remove them from the general population quickly to prevent the spread of the infection,” she said.

According to Fraser’s health authority, no new cases of infection have been reported at the prison since May 1, after providing “extensive consultation on infection prevention and control measures” in April to help contain the disease.


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