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Coronavirus outbreak declared at Regina Correctional Centre

An outbreak has been declared at the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre after two staff members along with four offenders tested positive for COVID-19. File / Global News

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre.

Two staff members along with four offenders have tested positive for the virus, confirmed by the provincial government on Thursday.

“The offenders that have tested positive are in isolation and of course all supports are being offered that are possible. The staff, obviously, are in isolation also … most likely at their own homes,” said Christine Tell, Saskatchewan’s minister of corrections, policing and public safety.

Read more: Congress of Aboriginal Peoples calls for Christine Tell’s resignation

“The procedures that preceded the four offenders being testing positive are still in place.”

Tell said those policies include restricted visitors, mandatory masking, and enhanced cleaning, while hand soap and sanitizer are being made available to everyone.

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All new incomers to the correctional centre, not only Regina but across the province, are also being placed in isolation for 14 days.

Read more: 72 new coronavirus cases reported at Saskatoon Correctional Centre

As for how the virus got into the facility, Tell said the province isn’t entirely sure but narrowed down the possibilities. She said contact tracers are trying to figure it out.

“There’s only a few ways the virus can get into our institutions and that is by people. That could be visitors, that could be staff, whatever the case may be,” Tell said.

“We are able to properly space people within our facilities, albeit one is in a trailer done up to the standards that we require.”

Saskatoon is also dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at one of its correctional centres on a much larger scale than Regina.

Eighty offenders and 19 staff have been tested positive with the virus in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer said both outbreaks are a result of overcrowded jails.

“We have some of the highest remand rates in the country which ministry officials are well aware of because they have been talking about addressing this issue for years now,” Saraurer said.

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Read more: 16 COVID-19 cases reported among staff, inmates at Saskatchewan correctional centres

“There was an initiative taken and done pretty well by ministry officials in the spring in terms of reducing our rates of inmates in the jail,” she added.

“That since, as we can tell, stopped happening which is why we are seeing overcrowding again in the prisons like we were before the pandemic and why it’s creating this ticking time-bomb which keeps going off.”

Across six correctional centres in the province, there are 26 staff and 101 offenders who tested positive for COVID-19.

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