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2 inmates at maximum-security prison test positive for COVID-19: officials

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Public health officials say two inmates at a maximum-security prison in Quebec have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In a press release issued Monday, Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) said two inmates at Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec have tested positive.

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“These are the first confirmed cases related to inmates in a federal correctional institution,” the release reads.

According to the release, before the inmates were diagnosed, nine employees who work at the same institution also tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“All of these employees are in isolation at home and are following direction from local health officials,” the release reads. “As soon as a positive result was reported for one employee last week, additional people were tested based on public health contact tracing, which led to the early detection of these other cases.”

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The two inmates are being medically isolated from the general inmate population, and the institution has been on lockdown as a precautionary measure.

“We are closely and carefully following direction from public health officials and monitoring these inmates while following strict protocols to avoid further spread,” the release said. “We have dedicated health care in our institutions with nurses and doctors on hand to monitor and assess any inmates who develop symptoms.”

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According to CSC, as of Friday, 50 tests had been conducted in institutions, resulting in 45 negative and two positive results.

Three tests are pending.

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CSC said a number of measures have been implemented in all of its institutions across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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CSC said all those who may have come in contact with the infected individuals have been notified, the institution has been disinfected and workers have been asked to wear masks.

According to the release, enhanced screening measures have also been put in place for anyone entering CSC facilities, including taking temperatures, and “preventative measures” such as physical distancing and hygiene practices have been reinforced.

CSC said visits, programming and all non-essential work at its institutions has also been suspended.