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Major COVID-19 outbreak at Joyceville Institution

Eighty inmates and four staff members at Joyceville Institution have tested positive for COVID-19, Kingstonist learned on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

According to multiple anonymous sources with inside knowledge of Joyceville Institution, 301 inmates were tested for COVID-19, and as of Thursday morning, 77 of those tests had come back positive. That number had risen to 80 by Thursday afternoon, when Corrections Canada confirmed the outbreak in a press release.

Inmates’ COVID-19 case numbers are not included in the local KFL&A Public Health COVID-19 data, but federal staff are included in the local data. According to KFL&A Public Health, four Joyceville Institution staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Due to the nature of the testing method used, varying results as a result of retesting, and possible further spread of the virus, the case numbers are likely to change several times over the coming days.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) reports to its own Public Health Unit, and publicly reports inmate test results daily (Monday through Friday) on their website. However, as of Thursday morning, that page had not yet been updated and did not reflect the 301 tests administered at Joyceville Institution, nor the positive results.

Screen shot of the CSC test and positive cases chart for Kingston area institutions.

On the same day, CSC announced “heightened COVID-19 measures in the Ontario region.”

“In the interest of the health and safety of the public, our employees, inmates, and their families, CSC has temporarily suspended in person visits at all of its Ontario Institutions and CCCs as of December 16, 2020,” CSC said in a press release on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

“This decision will limit comings and goings from its facilities. It follows extensive consultation with public health officials and will be reassessed on an ongoing basis.”

CSC also said that all sites across the country, including Ontario, have implemented extensive health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include: wearing masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, active health screening of anyone entering an institution, and increased cleaning and disinfecting. CSC has also built its own contact tracing capacity, the press release said.

“CSC has also expanded its testing of employees and offenders, as part of its comprehensive testing strategy. This includes increased testing of staff and offenders in communities with higher levels of community transmission,” the press release said.

“This is an evolving situation and we continue to work with public health authorities to monitor the situation and take additional actions, as needed.”

This is a developing story. More to come.

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