Two dozen inmates at Warkworth Institution test negative for coronavirus, CSC says

Warkworth Institution in Warkworth, Ont.
Warkworth Institution in Warkworth, Ont. Global Peterborough file

Two dozen inmates at Warkworth Institution in Ontario have tested negative for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).

In data released on Wednesday, the CSC said that 24 inmates at the medium-level prison in Warkworth, Ont., about 60 kilometres south of Peterborough, were tested for COVID-19. None of the tests were positive, according to the CSC.

To date, at federal correctional centres in Ontario, 71 tests have been conducted, with eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont. Test results for two other inmates in Ontario are pending, the CSC said.

READ MORE: Ontario’s jails releasing inmates because of COVID-19 concerns

Kristy Denette, a spokeswoman the Ministry of the Solicitor General in Ontario, said the government has been working with the courts and police to reduce the number of people in custody while ensuring public safety isn’t compromised.

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Since March 16, the population at all facilities across Ontario has dropped from 8,344 to 6,148, she said. Nine low-risk offenders close to the end of their sentences were also released under temporary absence passes, she added.

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In British Columbia, as of Monday, there were two federal inmates who tested positive for the virus, along with 12 in Quebec.

READ MORE: Judges release growing number accused of violent crimes due to COVID-19 fears

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has asked the commissioner of the correctional service and the chair of the Parole Board of Canada to determine if certain offenders could be released early, according to a statement from his office released Tuesday.

“Our greatest responsibility is keeping Canadians safe. That includes all correctional staff, inmates and the Canadian public. We know the unique risks inherent to prisons,” it says.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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