The Solicitor General's office has responded to the news of the latest COVID-19 outbreak at the North Bay Jail, but at time, they are not closing the facility due to the large outbreak.
"The Ministry is aware that North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the North Bay Jail," admitted Andrew Morrison, media relations with the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
"Local public health authorities determine case thresholds for a declared institutional outbreak. Each facility has its own pandemic plan in place prepared in consultation with local public health partners."
Morrison says protecting the health and safety of correctional services staff and those in provincial custody is the ministry’s top priority.
"The Ministry has developed COVID-19 protocols for provincial correctional facilities, in alignment with the Ministry of Health and public health partners," he said in an email to BayToday.
"Any inmate that tests positive for COVID-19 is placed on droplet and contact precautions and isolated from the rest of the inmate population while they receive appropriate medical care."
See related: COVID outbreak at North Bay Jail reaches 60 cases
The Ministry says it has its own supply of COVID-19 vaccines and makes the vaccine available to all eligible inmates on an ongoing basis.
Ministry clinical staff have access to inmate vaccination records via the provincial COVAX system.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has made important operational changes across all provincial correctional facilities including:
- Screening and testing all newly admitted inmates, with their consent
- Housing all newly admitted inmates in a separate area from the general population for 14 days
- Providing masks to inmates, if required
- Providing personal protective equipment for all staff
- Requiring all staff to wear a mask at all times while at the facility and eye protection, as necessary.
- Requiring visitors to wear masks at all times while at the facility
- Requiring temperature checks for staff and visitors
- Working with local public health units to test inmates and staff as appropriate.
- Increased cleaning measures
Back in June, the Solicitor General's office confirmed to BayToday that the North Bay Jail would be closing for at least two weeks as the facility dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak.
During that closure, 61 inmates were transferred to other facilities.
In total 43 individuals tested positive in connection with the outbreak which ended on July 12, 2021.