UPDATED: Forty inmates at Sarnia Jail contracted COVID 19

Sarnia Courthouse

Jail design makes health measures incredibly challenging says Lambton’s MOH

Another six inmates at the Sarnia Jail have contracted COVID-19.

That makes 40 people who have been in the facility who have caught the virus according to statistics released by Lambton Public Health Wednesday. Four corrections workers have also tested positive in their workplace.

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sudit Ranade, says it is “an incredibly challenging environment to manage behaviours and interactions” and the design of the jail poses problems since there no walls just bars between cells which are close together; “design features that we really can’t over come with public health measures.”

Ranade says generally speaking, the people in the Sarnia Jail aren’t in a high risk group for COVID-19, so the illness is less likely to have severe outcomes. Public health officials said Wednesday that most of the people who have contracted the virus have had mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General is reducing the inmate population at the jail, with temporary release programs where inmates serve their time in the community. But that may pose more hurdles. Ranade said if inmates return to the community, it may be more difficult to keep in contact with them to track the spread of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, there were only 49 people in the jail which holds 101 people.

The MOH says for now, public health is working with the facilities to adapt their guidance to fit the needs there. Ranade says it is a “dynamic situation.

“In some ways, there is only so much you can do.”