With two staff at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre testing positive for COVID-19, the Ministry of Corrections is enacting new measures to try to fight any further spread.

The staff that tested positive have been directed by public health authorities to self-isolate at home, while the ministryis working with public health authorities to determine who these individuals might have come into contact with within the correctional facility and what measures need to be taken as a result.

No offenders in any of the correctional centres have had a confirmed positive test yet. One of the units is on quarantine as a precautionary measure on a non-COVID-19 related illness.

Staff who believe they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to contact a health care provider and to notify their supervisor of their concerns.  We are working with health authorities to ensure corrections workers, like other essential service providers, receive priority testing for COVID-19.

A media release from the ministry is exploring how to better manage the sentenced offender population in our provincial correctional facilities in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, and they say they are using existing infrastructure and program space within correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff.

Nurses are watch for symptoms of illness in the offender population and if symptoms are identified, they ensure prompt assessment, testing, documenting and reporting of offenders suspected or confirmed to have a communicable disease.

When there is a suspected illness among the offender population in a custody facility, the facility director ensures that disease specific precautions are put in place, including the use of medical cells or other isolated areas.

Personal protective equipment is being provided to corrections staff and offenders based on criteria established by the World Health Organization and public health authorities.

Other measures being taken include restricting the movement and placement of offenders within the facility; suspending or limiting programming to smaller groups of offenders to ensure adequate social distancing; increased communication to staff and offenders about proper hygiene and contagious disease precautions; enhancing cleaning protocols in all facilities for common areas and equipment; and thorough and regular handwashing with soap and water by facility staff.