An inmate has died from an apparent complication related to COVID-19 at an institution in B.C. that is experiencing the largest outbreak among prisoners in Canada.
Correctional Service Canada says it is the first death from the novel coronavirus among federally sentenced inmates in the country.
The agency says in a statement the inmate, who has not been identified, died at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Wednesday.
The inmate was serving time at Mission Institution, a medium-security prison where 54 inmates and eight correctional officers have tested positive for the virus.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a statement that the government is looking at options to see what further measures can be taken to ensure that inmates, staff and communities are as safe and healthy as possible during the pandemic.
“Our greatest responsibility is keeping Canadians safe – that includes those in our correctional institutions,” he said.
“We know the unique vulnerabilities facing correctional institutions during this public-health crisis. The situation around COVID-19 is both challenging and rapidly evolving, and our response will continue to adapt as required to prevent further tragic loss of life.”
He offered condolences to the inmate’s family.
Correctional Service Canada said the inmate’s next of kin has been notified and the BC Coroners Service will review the circumstances of death.
A total of 145 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at federal prisons among 458 who have been tested.
The largest outbreaks have occurred at the Mission prison and Joliette Institution in Quebec, where 48 inmates and 34 correctional officers have tested positive for the virus.
Another 25 inmates have tested positive at the Federal Training Centre in Laval, Que., and 10 others at Port-Cartier Institution, also in Quebec.
Eight cases have been confirmed at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Ontario.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says 15 of their members at Port-Cartier Institution are sick, four at the Federal Training Centre and one at Grand Valley Institution.
On Thursday, the union said the first two cases among correctional officers as Drummond Institution in Quebec were confirmed.
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