Two Saskatoon Corrections Centre staff members among confirmed COVID-19 cases

Two staff members of the Saskatoon Corrections Centre have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

They were among nine new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Saskatchewan on March 27, bringing the total to 104.

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Noel Busse, communications branch executive director with the Ministry of Corrections and Policing, said in a teleconference on Friday they are working with the Public Health Authority to determine who these individuals might have come into contact with in the correctional facility.

Busse did not provide much additional information regarding the two positive cases due to confidentiality, but he did say the two staff work in separate areas of the correctional facility and it would be part of their normal duties to interact with offenders in the corrections centre.

Busse also said there are currently 465 offenders in the Saskatoon Corrections Centre. He added there are currently no positive cases among offenders.

“We are very mindful of the movement of offenders within the facilities,” Busse said.

He added they are in constant contact with correctional facilities in the province and federal counterparts to ensure they are taking the proper steps to mitigate any potential spread of COVID-19.

Bob Bymoen, the president of the Saskatchewan Government & General Employees’ Union, which represents the correctional officers, called for increased testing of inmates, corrections staff and deputy sheriffs; better access to personal protective equipment like masks and gloves; and open and transparent pandemic communication for staff and inmates.

“These people are working under the toughest circumstances and are worried. We have repeatedly raised the alarm about their safety," Bymoen said in a media release. "Now overcrowding and lack of proper safety equipment means that they are also facing the threat of a serious COVID-19 outbreak. We need action right now.”

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, added in a press conference that there are now six cases of community transmission in Saskatchewan. Of the 104 cases, six are hospitalized with two in ICU.

Shahab also said three people have now recovered from COVID-19.

“As we can see now within three and a half weeks since we had our first case, we can see people coming out of, for the most part, mild illness and recovering,” Shahab said.

Shahab said to date 7,580 tests have been performed for COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. Of the confirmed cases, 49 are in the 20-44 age range, 33 are in the 45-64 age range and 18 cases are in the 65-plus age range. Fifty-seven per cent of the cases are male and 43 per cent are female.

Jordan Stricker is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter based out of the Estevan Mercury

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