Nearly half of the inmates at Sarnia Jail have COVID-19

The Sarnia Jail pictured here at the left of the photo has a COVID-19 outbreak with 34 inmates and four corrections officer who have tested positive.

Thirty-four of 73 people housed at the jail tested positive in the last nine days

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Sarnia Jail has exploded with 34 inmates testing positive.

The outbreak was declared at the jail Feb. 7 and by the end of this week, 14 inmates and four staff members tested positive for the virus.

Over the weekend, Lambton Public Health says another 20 inmates were found COVID-19 positive.

“Any inmate that tests positive for COVID-19 is placed under droplet precautions and isolated from the rest of the inmate population while they receive appropriate medical care.”

“The ministry continues to work with local public health authorities to complete contact tracing, and voluntary testing of inmates is ongoing,” says Andrew Morrison of the Solicitor General’s media relations department.

As of Feb. 10, the Sarnia Jail had 73 inmates in custody. The jail has operated at an average of 82 per cent of its 101 inmate capacity during the past six months.

Morrison said the ministry has tried to reduce the number of inmates in jail through a temporary absence program, where people serving intermittent sentences can do their time in the community. It’s not clear immediately how many people have been moved out of the local jail.

Several safety measures have been introduced for inmates who must come into the jail, including new inmates spending their first two weeks separated from the general population along with a wave of cleaning protocols for correctional officers.

Thursday, the union representing correctional workers said separating prisoners was not easy.

“There’s limited space in a jail. You can’t segregate and you can’t have people stay six feet apart in that kind of a setting. It’s just not there,” says Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU regional vice-president for the Sarnia area