With coronavirus outbreaks declared over in federal prisons, staff brace for ‘new normal’ – National


COVID-19 outbreaks in federal prisons across Canada have been declared over, and staff and visitors are bracing for a “new normal” that could be in place for years to come.In March, the Correctional Service of Canada implemented several physical distancing measures, including providing masks to staff and inmates. Additional personal protective equipment, such as gloves, gowns and face shields were also provided.

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Prisons have also banned public visits.

Despite precautions, the new coronavirus has spread behind bars.

“Of our 43 facilities, we have had five outbreaks since the start of the pandemic, all of which are now over,” said Marie Pier Lecuyer, spokesperson for the Correctional Service of Canada.

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“However, we continue to monitor the situation and diligently enforce our security measures and health protocols.”

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A total of 360 inmates in Canada have tested positive for COVID-19, and two of them have died. The hardest hit facility was the Federal Multi-Level Training Center in Laval, Que., Which reported 161 cases and one death. One inmate remains in hospital.

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Mission Medium Institution in Mission, British Columbia, had 120 inmates who tested positive. One of them also died.

The Correctional Service of Canada’s website on Friday did not list any active inmate cases, but said five test results were pending.

As of August 5, Lecuyer said 142 employees at the institutions had tested positive for COVID-19 and 139 had recovered.

About a third of inmates in Canada are housed in federal institutions and the rest in provincial prisons, where those sentenced to two years less a day mix with those awaiting trial.

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An official from the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said things are slowly returning to normal in prisons, but it will be a long process.

“Officers wear masks whenever we cannot socially distance ourselves. Inmates are given masks to wear when they cannot distance themselves. We still have to start opening some way, right? You can’t just leave it all closed forever, ”James Bloomfield told The Canadian Press.

The Correctional Service of Canada began the process of gradually allowing visits to inmates across the country a month ago, with strict sanitary measures.

Before being admitted, visitors must be screened and have their temperature checked. They are also required to wash their hands before entering, wear a mask and practice physical distancing. The visitor areas are cleaned and disinfected before and after each visit.

“That’s really what our new standard is,” Bloomfield said.

“It’s going to be small and very different. Previously, we didn’t ask anyone if they were out of the province if they were visiting. We had never taken the temperature of anyone at the door, ”he added.

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Bloomfield said stopping public visits to federal institutions was necessary but unpopular with inmates.

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Visits are important because they allow detainees to maintain community and family contacts, he said.

“Having to restrict things like that is not taken lightly at all,” Bloomfield said.

“It is reminiscent of the elderly in retirement homes. … They are locked away from people and no one can visit them.

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