Visits suspended at federal prisons in Quebec to curb COVID-19 second wave
MONTREAL -- Visits to federal prisons in Quebec have been suspended in an effort to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 inside the facilities, the Correctional Service of Canada said this weekend.
The CSC is working closely with its Quebec public health partners amid a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, agency spokesperson Avely Serin said in an email Sunday.
"This decision is a proactive and preventative measure given that community transmission rates in the province has risen in recent days," Serin said.
She said the restrictions are in accordance with some of the Quebec government's latest public health recommendations to stem the potential spread of the coronavirus, including requests for residents not to travel between different parts of the province, minimize their contact with others, and avoid social gatherings.
"Our measures are in line with this and will be reassessed on a weekly basis, given this is an evolving situation," Serin said.
The new restrictions in Quebec also include a suspension of temporary absences and work releases from institutions and community correctional centres.
Health services at the CSC's Quebec facilities will continue, however, and temporary absences will be allowed on medical and compassionate grounds, the agency said.
Serin said the restrictions for Quebec would not apply to federal institutions in other provinces, but that the agency is monitoring the situation closely.
Quebec has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, reporting 896 new cases on Sunday -- its highest single-day tally since May.
COVID-19 cases have also been rising steadily in Ontario, which reported on Sunday 491 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths from the illness.
On its website, the CSC says there are no active cases of COVID-19 among inmates in its 43 institutions across Canada.
A total of 231 positive COVID-19 tests have been reported among inmates at federal institutions in Quebec since the start of the pandemic.
Of that, one inmate has died while 230 cases are considered recovered.
The Quebec government also says there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 in provincial detention facilities.
The province's public security department did not immediately respond to questions on Sunday about whether it is considering suspending visits to provincial detention centres.
-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2020.