Red Cross deployed to help contain COVID-19 outbreak at Alberta prison
Drumheller Institution sign. (file)
CALGARY -- A federal aid agency has been called in to help assist with a massive COVID-19 outbreak at the Drumheller Institution, which has already spread to 83 people.
Correctional Service Canada (CSC) confirmed to CTV News Wednesday that members of the Canadian Red Cross have been deployed at the prison since March 8.
"As of March 9, 2021, there were 63 positive inmates cases of COVID-19 and 20 positive staff cases at Drumheller Institution," said a spokesperson for the CSC in an email. "Contact tracing is underway to determine how COVID is being transmitted. Additional mass testing is underway for staff and offenders at Drumheller Institution."
Measures are being undertaken to prevent further infections among inmates, the service says, including modified routines to limit close contacts, cancelling visits, improving access to personal protective equipment as well as enhancing cleaning of the facilities and testing of staff and offenders.
"Inmates transferring into Drumheller Institution are subject to testing for COVID symptoms upon arrival followed by 14 days of medical isolation in order to contain the spread of the virus."
The CSC says it is also working with Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and unions to ensure everyone at the facility is safe from infection.
RED CROSS COMMITTED TO SUPPORT
A representative of the Red Cross says the agency is providing "epidemic prevent and control enhancement" as well as many other methods of assistance.
"Over the course of six months, the Canadian Red Cross will provide this support at facilities across the country, as prioritized by Corrections Canada," said Red Cross spokesperson Shelly Makrugin in an email.
She added the agency is well positioned to provide support, given its experience in epidemics around the world.
"Since the initial onset of COVID-19, the Red Cross has assessed and supported similar efforts in other facilities throughout Canada, including long-term care sites and rehabilitation centres."
According to the latest data from Alberta Health, there are 57 active cases of COVID-19 in the town of Drumheller. Four people have died from the disease in the region so far.