A Brampton Jail Is Closing Down After 68 People Contracted COVID-19
A pandemic can hit anyone, anywhere. A Brampton jail is joining the list of closures in the province for the time being. Over 60 people including both inmates and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Ontario Correctional Institute, resulting in the relocation of hundreds to the Toronto South Detention Centre.
According to City News, the Ministry of the Solicitor General plans to transfer about 140 inmates from the OCI to the TSDC in Etobicoke within the next 24 hours.
The outbreak has affected 60 inmates and eight workers, CP24 confirmed.
Those who currently work for the Brampton jail will be placed on a two-week quarantine before they are sent off to help in other locations across the province.
The OCI, a treatment facility for addictions, sexual offences, and mental health, will temporarily close its doors from Tuesday, April 21.
A spokesperson said the institute's "dormitory-style setting" makes it too dangerous to remain open right now.
“All inmates are being transferred to a separate area at Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC), and will not be placed with existing TSDC inmates to reduce any potential spread of COVID-19,” said Kristy Denette, Senior Spokesperson at Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor, via CP24.
“TSDC, our newest facility, has a modern healthcare unit with medical isolation units and appropriate resources, to effectively manage and support inmates with COVID-19,” she added.
According to the Brampton Guardian, last week, three staff members at the facility contracted COVID-19. Inmates were then tested with urgency.
However, the Guardian reports some staff members were frustrated at the situation and think changes should have been communicated sooner.
The OCI will be thoroughly cleaned while it remains closed and both the Solicitor General and Peel Public health aim to work together to identify staff and inmates who might have been impacted.
According to CBC, though, the TSDC has also had some worries in regards to COVID-19 in its inmate community. Three inmates and one staff member have reportedly tested positive.
Meanwhile, Dr. Barbara Yaffe spoke to reporters on Monday, April 20 and although she didn't mention the OCI by name, she stressed there is no great surprise that the virus is spreading within correctional facilities.
She emphasized "congregate settings" like prisons, as well as long-term care homes, are danger zones for infection.
"Is there wide testing happening? There is testing, certainly around any suspected case. Once it's confirmed, we would be ordering testing of close contacts and staff, including asymptomatic," said Dr. Yaffe to reporters.
Not only has the spread of COVID-19 affected correctional institutes in Peel Region but also two major Mississauga Hospitals, resulting in positive tests for 76 members of staff.
However, on Monday, Ontario's latest COVID-19 model suggested the province is moving towards a "best-case scenario" thanks to social distancing measures slowing the rate of community spread.
*This cover photo has been used for illustrative purposes only.