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UPDATED: Outbreak declared at Penetanguishene superjail

One staff member has tested positive along with two inmates, all from the same unit
Central North Correctional Centre Mehreen Shahid/MidlandToday file photo

Three people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene.

In declaring the outbreak, Dr. Charles Gardner from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said one staff member has tested positive along with two inmates, all from the same unit.

Gardner, the region's medical officer of health, said this afternoon that further testing is pending at the facility that normally houses more than 900 inmates.

Richard Dionne, president of OPSEU local CNCC-369, said with the outbreak declaration, all staff are now wearing face shields in addition to the universal masking previously in place.

"All other protocols remain in place," he said.

Andrew Morrison, a spokesman with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, said the two affected inmates "are under droplet precautions" and isolated from the rest of the inmate population while they receive appropriate medical care.

"The ministry is working with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to support contact tracing," he said. "Protecting the health and safety of correctional services staff and those in provincial custody is the ministry’s top priority."

Morrison outlined some of operational changes the ministry has made over the last number of months at all provincial correctional facilities.

They include: Testing all newly admitted inmates, with their consent, housing all newly admitted inmates in a separate area from the general population for 14 days, providing masks to inmates (if required), providing personal protective equipment for all staff, increased cleaning measures as well as requiring all staff and visitors to always wear masks and submit to temperature checks.