‘It’s mind-boggling’: COVID-19 cases continue to climb at Calgary Remand Centre

Click to play video: 'More than 200 COVID-19 cases confirmed at Calgary Remand Centre'
More than 200 COVID-19 cases confirmed at Calgary Remand Centre
WATCH: COVID-19 cases continue to climb at the Calgary Remand Centre with the virus spreading to both inmates and staff. As Tracy Nagai reports, Alberta Health Services is allowing some people to isolate at home while they await their court date to try and stop the spread – Dec 11, 2020

A Calgary student-at-law is coming forward with his concerns about the outbreak at the Calgary Remand Centre after two of his clients tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s mind-boggling. I’m concerned for their well-being,” said Chad Haggerty with Craig Hooker Shiskin Law Firm. “It’s not just the fear of death, it’s the fear of long-term health complications as a result of (COVID-19).” 

Haggerty said he has about a half a dozen clients at the remand centre and so far two of them have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and have mild symptoms.

“Both (inmates) had negative tests and then had somebody transfer into their cell,” he explained. “Subsequent to that transfer into their cell, they tested positive for COVID(-19) unfortunately.”

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An outbreak was first declared at the Calgary Remand Centre on Nov. 27 and since then the numbers have increased drastically.

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On Friday, Alberta Health Services confirmed 226 inmates, 35 staff members and one contractor tested positive for the virus.

That’s an increase from the 42 cases first announced at a news conference less than two weeks ago on Nov. 30.

Days later on Dec. 3, that number more than tripled to nearly 140.

Haggerty now wants more health measures put into place, including stricter cleaning protocols and a renewed emphasis on allowing inmates charged with minor offences to await their trial dates at home.

The people who are detained in correctional institutions or remand institutions deserve to be safe,” he said. “They’re still members of our community and they have people who love them.” 

In an email AHS said 28 of the 226 inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 have been released back into the community for follow-up by public health.

Last week, AHS said in a statement that all inmates and staff had been tested for COVID-19 and all movement between units had been suspended.

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“Isolation and monitoring of the positive cases is underway as per public health direction,” the health authority said.

“All the inmates are reporting mild symptoms, if any at all. Infection prevention and control measures are in place, including enhanced cleaning and PPE protection.”

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