Fear escalates in jail as COVID cases rise


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An inmate at Headingley Correctional Centre says the entire jail is locked down as the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/10/2020 (826 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An inmate at Headingley Correctional Centre says the entire jail is locked down as the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise.

Justice officials said on Thursday there were 44 cases — 34 inmates, 10 staff — in the provincial jail. On Friday, that number jumped to 69 cases. Another 13 were listed as recovered.

In all seven provincial correctional facilities, there were 81 active cases, and another 15 cases were listed as recovered.

There are 69 cases of COVID-19 at Headingley Correctional Centre. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The Headingley inmate, who asked not to be identified, said they are worried they are going to become stricken with the virus.

“Right now the jail is in complete outbreak,” he said on Friday.

“The entire jail is locked down. There were another 30 positive inmate cases (on Thursday).”

He said an entire unit of inmates has tested positive. He believes there are other inmates who are positive, but haven’t been tested yet.

“People who are sick aren’t coming forward. There’s definitely people sick in my area but no one wants to come forward,” he said

“If they come forward, all they are doing is putting them in segregation. You can’t just lock up people in segregation because they’re sick, but that’s what they’re doing. So no one is coming forward for testing.

“What I don’t understand is why they don’t do tests on everyone. Don’t they want to see how widespread this is?”

Two weeks ago, Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, put the jail under critical code-red pandemic restrictions. At the time, Roussin said 150 inmates of a population of almost 600 were self-isolating.

The first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed earlier this month, when a corrections officer tested positive. The current breakdown of infected staff and inmates is unknown.

“Guys here are legitimately scared,” the inmate said. “There’s lots of uncertainty, lots of concern, and lots of nervousness.”

Elsewhere, there are five active cases at the Agassiz Youth Centre, two each at the Manitoba Youth Centre and the Women’s Correctional Centre, and one each at Brandon Correctional Centre, Milner Ridge Correctional Centre, and the Winnipeg Remand Centre.


Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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