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Coronavirus: Four men continue hunger strike at immigration monitoring centre in Laval

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs.
Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs. Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Four men detained at the Laval Immigration Monitoring Centre continued a hunger strike for a fifth day Saturday with the hopes of obtaining their release and medical attention to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contamination.

A man from Senegal, using the pseudonym Abdoul to preserve his anonymity, reiterated his commitment to continue his hunger strike despite what he described as pressure and intimidation tactics by some of the centre officials, according to the Canadian Press.

Abdoul claimed 30 people started the hunger strike. The number was then reduced to eight by Friday afternoon. Four other people have since ended the strike on parole, he said.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Cases in Quebec climb to 2,498, deaths rise to 22

Several Canadian rights and freedom organizations have expressed support for the four strikers. They noted that the measures recommended by the government, such as social distancing, did not take into account the reality of detainees — whether in immigration monitoring centres, juvenile detention centres or prisons.

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The situation in a prison centre south of Toronto was cited as an example to demonstrate the risks faced by these people. A correctional officer from an Etobicoke detention centre tested positive for COVID-19 last week and an inmate’s test was positive this week.

READ MORE: https://globalnews.ca/news/6741893/montreal-terrebonne-police-tribute/

In Quebec, an inmate was found positive following a COVID-19 test at a Sherbrooke prison this week.

Abdoul and organizations like the League for Rights and Freedoms and the Solidarité Sans Frontières urge governments to act.

The Canada Border Services Agency did not immediately respond to a message left by The Canadian Press for comments on the situation at the Laval Immigration Monitoring Centre.

— With files from La Presse Canadienne