Nearly 200 cases of infection to the COVID-19 in federal penitentiaries

OTTAWA – There were 193 cases of COVID-19 in the federal prisons as of Thursday, including 120 in Quebec, reported on Friday, the correctional investigator of Canada.

The outbreaks have occurred in five of the 43 institutions under federal jurisdiction, including three in Quebec, reported the investigator Ivan Zinger by press release.

Thus, 51 cases at the prison for women in Joliette, 54 cases at the federal training Centre, Laval, and 15 cases in the penitentiary of Port-Cartier. Only one inmate has died from the disease to date, according to the data collected.

Mr. Zinger calls into question the state of preparedness that had the correctional Service of Canada (CSC) response to the pandemic of the COVID-19.

“Although CSC is preparing for the seasonal flu each year, it must be said that the COVID-19 does not behave as a virus common, he notes. At the facility of Port-Cartier, before the 26 march, there was only one nurse, a part-time doctor and a psychologist to care for 175 inmates, many of which have underlying issues of mental health or chronic problems of physical health.”

Mr. Zinger stated that two nurses were subsequently added, but stressed that the situation was already transformed into “a true public health crisis”.

The correctional investigator, who visited the facility of Port-Cartier, recommends to Ottawa to visit and inspect all the federal penitentiaries in order to ensure that they have sufficient procedures to prevent and control infections. He asks the same thing of the local and provincial authorities.

Mr. Zinger also complains to CSC for a lack of transparency on cases of coronavirus in the prison population.

“A centralized approach (and often sanitized) with respect to the communications in a time of crisis does not serve the public interest,” he argued. It thus recommends to the federal agency to send regularly to the media and provide frequent updates on the situation during the rest of the pandemic.

Recall that a demand for collective action has been filed, earlier this week, against CSC for negligence in the face of the health threat.

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