THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay District Jail has been placed in lockdown because an inmate tested positive for COVID-19.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General says the case involves an inmate who was transferred from the jail to the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre.
A ministry spokesperson told TBNewswatch late Tuesday that the jail will remain locked down while contact tracing is underway, but that this is the only known COVID case so far at either of the two correctional facilities.
There is no lockdown at the correctional centre.
Under the protocol, any inmate who tests positive is placed under "droplet precautions" and isolated from the rest of the population while they receive medical care.
The spokesperson said the ministry is working with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit on followup, and that voluntary testing of staff as well as inmates is underway.
The ministry confirmed the incident after an inquiry from TBNewswatch which was prompted by a phone call from an inmate at the jail.
According to the inmate, the person who tested positive was in the jail for two days before he was transferred to the correctional centre.
He said the lockdown at the jail went into effect Tuesday morning, after the COVID-19 test result was received.
"Everyone's running around in hazmat suits, spraying everything down...It's scary. I have asthma, so I have a higher chance of dying from the virus," he said.
The ministry spokesperson said numerous operational changes, aimed at reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, have been made at correctional facilities across Ontario in recent months including:
- 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 as required
- providing personal protective equipment to all staff
- requiring temperature checks for staff and visitors
- requiring all staff and visitors to always wear masks
- increased cleaning measures
As of Dec. 24, over 16,000 COVID tests have been conducted in the province's jails.