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Calgary and Edmonton remand centres deal with COVID-19 outbreaks: AHS

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WATCH ABOVE (Sept. 24): Dr. Deena Hinshaw discusses a possible second wave of COVID-19 in Alberta, and how it could be avoided.

Two major correctional facilities in the province are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, as Alberta Health Services confirmed both the Calgary Remand Centre and Edmonton Remand Centre were added to the official outbreak list on Friday.

Calgary Remand Centre

The Calgary Remand Centre is dealing with five lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

According to AHS, four inmates and one contracted worker tested positive for coronavirus between Sept. 20 and Sept. 26.

At the Calgary centre, one of the four inmates remains in isolation, a second has passed their isolation period and has since tested negative, and two have been released and are self-isolating.

Read more: Coronavirus: Where Alberta’s COVID-19 outbreaks are

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AHS said that in “all cases” associated with the Calgary Remand Centre, it appears the virus was related to community transmission outside of the facility, and there is “no evidence” to support that any cases spread at the centre.

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Twenty-three inmates are isolating because they are considered close contacts to those who tested positive.

Edmonton Remand Centre

At the Edmonton Remand Centre, there are seven confirmed COVID-19 cases, which are all in contracted workers who tested positive between Sept. 19 and Oct. 2.

There have been no close contacts connected to the seven workers within the inmate population at the centre, AHS said.

AHS said that it believed all seven cases had been acquired outside of the correctional facility, and all the affected workers are isolating.

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First outbreak for both centres

Both centres are testing all new admissions for COVID-19 and holding them under a 14-day quarantine, according to AHS. Staff and inmates are observing distancing and wearing personal protective equipment like masks.

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Read more: Alberta confirms 122 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, death toll reaches 272

Calgary Remand Centre has a capacity of 684 inmates while Edmonton Remand Centre is nearly triple the size with a capacity of 1,952. Remand centres are generally used for inmates awaiting trial in the province.

Both centres have previously reported cases of COVID-19, but this marks the first time either has declared an outbreak. Alberta Health declares outbreaks when there are five or more cases at a location, except at continuing care centres, which are reported when there are two or more cases.

As of Friday, Alberta had 1,558 active cases of COVID-19. The majority of those cases are in Alberta’s major cities. The Edmonton zone had 835 active cases while the Calgary zone had 568. The provincial death toll sat at 272 on Friday.

Alberta Health no longer updates provincial numbers over the weekend.