Canada’s prisons preparing for coronavirus outbreak, want to limit visits

Canadian prison officials say they are adopting an existing flu-outbreak plan in preparation for the novel coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping across the country.

Correctional Service Canada says it wants the prisoners’ family and friends to avoid its institutions should they be sick and to consider other ways of communicating with loved ones, such as a video visitation or by telephone.

“CSC has considerable experience managing influenza outbreaks and the requirements for managing COVID-19 are similar,” spokeswoman Martine Rondeau said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Rondeau said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in CSC institutions, but noted the service will comply “with requirements set by public health authorities, which could include an institution being quarantined.”

In Ontario, the provincial government announced late Friday it was barring personal visits to inmates in its adult provincial jails, allowing only professional visits, such as from prisoners’ lawyers. Offenders serving their sentences on weekends will also see their restrictions loosened.

Experts and prisoner advocates have expressed concerns for the health of the highly vulnerable prisoner population.

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