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Coronavirus: First federal inmate death reported at B.C. prison as case count climbs

The Mission Correctional Institution in Mission, B.C. is pictured Tuesday, April 14, 2020. COVID-19 has infected several of the inmates and correctional officers at the facility. .
The Mission Correctional Institution in Mission, B.C. is pictured Tuesday, April 14, 2020. COVID-19 has infected several of the inmates and correctional officers at the facility. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

British Columbia’s Mission Institution is the site of Canada’s first apparent novel coronavirus-related federal inmate death.

The Corrections Service of Canada (CSC) confirmed Thursday that an inmate at the medium-security prison had died at Abbotsford Regional Hospital Wednesday as “an apparent result of complications related to COVID-19.”

READ MORE: B.C. prison outbreak worsens, 48 now infected with COVID-19

According to the CSC’s Thursday update, 54 inmates at the institution have tested positive.

The union representing corrections officers said Thursday that two more of its members had tested positive for the virus, for a total of eight.

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There are 155 corrections officers working at the Mission Institution, according to the union. It has a rated capacity for 216 inmates at the medium security wing — the site of the outbreak — and 324 inmates at its minimum security wing, according to the CSC.

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The CSC says it has tested 70 inmates at the medium security prison and one at the minimum security facility.

The CSC says it has notified both the inmate’s next of kin and the BC Coroners Service.

The BC Coroners Service confirmed it was investigating the death of an inmate at the prison, but would not speak to the circumstances.

“We are currently in the early stages of our investigation and have no further details to provide at time,” said a spokesperson in an email.

The CSC said Wednesday that it had issued masks to both inmates and corrections officers and that correctional officers were not permitted to move between prisons.

READ MORE: Mobile unit set up to help treat COVID-19 patients from B.C.’s Mission Institution

Inmate visits, temporary absences, work releases and institution transfers have all been temporarily suspended, along with prison programs and activities.

On Tuesday, the province announced that a mobile unit has been installed at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where a secure area has also been set up for the treatment of infected inmates.

In previous communications, the CSC has raised the possibility of early release for some inmates amid the outbreak.

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