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Inmates at Saskatoon jail under quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19 Court service and prosecutions staff have self-quarantined

Inmates at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre are being quarantined after an offender claimed to have been previously in contact with someone with COVID-19.

The infection protocol was done as a precautionary measure. Alberta and B.C. officials confirmed they haven’t identified the individual identified by the offender as being infected, said Noel Busse, Director of Communications for Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice/Corrections and Policing on March 11. 

“Until we have completely ruled out any potential contact between this individual and COVID-19, we are undertaking precautionary infection control measures in our correctional facilities as necessary."

Seven inmates were being transported with the original offender. Six living areas out of 13 are under quarantine at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.The quarantine impacts 158 offenders. 

One youth who was being transported with the initial offender who claimed to have come into contact with COVID-19, is being quarantined at Kilburn Hall.

“The offender and the other offenders he was in contact with have been placed in quarantine while we gather more information,” said Busse. 

In addition, seven correctional staff have self-isolated as a precautionary measure. 

“The staff are from court services and prosecutions,” said Busse. “We understand that some legal aid staff have self-isolated as well.”

Corrections is in close consultation with public health officials for direction and guidance. 

Medical assessments are routinely done on offenders as part of the intake process at all Saskatchewan correctional facilities.

“Facility nurses are vigilant in observing for symptoms of illness in the offender population,” said Busse. “If symptoms are identified, nurses ensure prompt assessment, testing, documenting and reporting of offenders suspected or confirmed to have a communicable disease.” 

The facility director ensures that disease specific precautions are put in place when there is a suspected illness in a Saskatchewan custody facility. These measures include ongoing communication with Public Health Services, staff and other correctional facilities, restricting the movement and placement of offenders within the facility, increased communication to staff and offenders about contagious diseases, cleaning, disinfecting and restrictions for common areas and equipment, thorough and regular hand washing with soap and water, use of approved hand sanitizers, routine cleaning of the offender, common and staff areas and shared items, as well as using gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment. 

To reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, arrangements are being made with court services to use video court appearances and some court appearances will be postponed. 

Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist