Middlesex-London Health Unit confirms first case of coronavirus at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

FILE. Andrew Graham / Global News

The one new case of the novel coronavirus reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) on Thursday is the first case involving an inmate at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).

Medical officer of health, Dr. Chris Mackie, said the result comes after a “wave of screening at EMDC.”

“The same as we had in the long-term care sector, where all staff and inmates have been tested or are in the process of being tested for the coronavirus. This individual that tested positive, no other individuals around them have tested positive — yet anyways — and the individual does not have symptoms.”

READ MORE: 1 new coronavirus case, 2 recoveries in London-Middlesex, health officials say

Mackie noted that correctional institutions present a number of risks for the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the population density and the fact that many people who are incarcerated “have chronic diseases or other underlying health issues for various reasons.”

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“It’s actually fantastic that they’ve only had this one case very late in the pandemic and it’s quite possible that this case is a false positive as well.”

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Still, Mackie says they will continue to work with and support the facility to take all appropriate steps to contain any potential outbreak.

READ MORE: London, Ont., jail poorly prepared for potential COVID-19 outbreak: inmate lawyer, employee rep

“The individual will be isolated. We’ll make sure that everyone who’s around them has been tested. We believe that they all have been through the screening process but we’ll verify that.”

The health unit will also make sure “all appropriate protocols are being followed” in regards to cleaning, monitoring the health of staff and inmates, and maintaining physical distancing as much as possible between the infected inmate and the rest of the population. The ministry “can also confirm there is a partial lockdown to facilitate deep cleaning of impacted areas.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: Testing in U.S. prisons finds huge asymptomatic population – Apr 25, 2020

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