The Kent Institution outbreak has entered its second week with 41 inmates and at least 18 employees infected with COVID-19.
Correctional Service Canada (CSC) reported the outbreak began Dec. 29 with the first positive cases. On New Year’s Eve, the CSC reported 18 employees tested positive for COVID-19. By Jan. 3, the number of infected inmates had gone up to 33.
To date, during this outbreak, 88 COVID-19 tests have been administered to inmates with 41 coming back positive. There have been no inmate deaths due to COVID-19 at Kent Institution.
“Everyone’s health and safety continues to be our top priority,” said CSC spokesperson Lucinda Fraser. “This is an evolving situation and we continue to apply and reinforce infection prevention and control measures to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 and adapt based on public health advice.”
Fraser said the CSC is waiting on testing results for employees at Kent Institution. Kent Institution employees are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before entering the institution. According to Fraser, if a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they are sent home and will be away from the workplace until they are deemed safe to return according to CSC and public health standards.
“ We have not brought any COVID positive staff back to work, with or without symptoms, until they are fully recovered,” Fraser added. “Our return to work protocols for asymptomatic high-risk contacts meet or exceed provincial public health guidance in all cases.”
Staff and inmates are equipped with level 2 medical masks; some staff may wear a respirator as well, depending on the risk levels. The CSC has enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place as well.
Staffing levels in Pacific-region correctional facilities remain adequate. In-person visitation has been temporarily suspended because of the outbreak.
At Mountain Institution in Agassiz, there was one inmate case of COVID-19; the inmate has since been listed as recovered as of Jan. 5.
Last March, the Kent Institution had an outbreak of 10 employees who tested positive for COVID-19. It was discovered that this outbreak originated in the community rather than at the prison; no inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at that time.
As of publication, 67.5 per cent of the Kent Institution inmate population has been fully vaccinated (72.5 per cent partially vaccinated). About 23 per cent of inmates have received a booster. At Mountain Institution, 83.4 per cent of inmates are fully vaccinated (87.1 per cent partially vaccinated). 58.5 per cent of inmates have received a booster.