Whitehorse jail had 4 COVID-19 cases, none currently active

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The Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The jail saw 4 cases of COVID-19 beginning June 24, but currently has no active cases. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)
The Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The jail saw 4 cases of COVID-19 beginning June 24, but currently has no active cases. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)

Four people at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) tested positive for COVID-19 since late June.

However, there is no evidence of transmission within the jail, nor are there currently any active cases.

Yukon Department of Justice spokesperson Fiona Azizaj confirmed to the CBC News by email on Thursday that "four individuals with COVID-19 [were] brought" to the WCC, with the first positive case confirmed on June 24.

One person recovered while at the jail, while the remaining three were released.

Azizaj did not respond to a follow-up question about when the WCC last had an active case. She also declined to identify which units people with COVID-19 had been occupying, citing privacy concerns.

However, she wrote in her initial response that the corrections branch was "committed to working with Yukon Communicable Disease Control to support individuals who are released from custody while positive for COVID-19."

She also wrote that the corrections branch was working with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Yukon Communicable Disease Control to test people on admission to the WCC.

The jail has introduced a number of COVID-19 measures since March 2020, including providing staff and inmates with additional personal protective equipment, restricting visits and increasing the use of video-link court appearances. The jail has also hosted four vaccination clinics since January, with 150 vaccines administered to both staff and inmates.

Yukon is currently experiencing its first significant wave of COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, with 350 new cases — the majority of them in Whitehorse — reported over the span of five weeks. The wave is being fuelled by the P.1 or Gamma variant of concern and cases are largely spreading among unvaccinated people.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley said Wednesday that cases are becoming "increasingly concentrated" among the territory's vulnerable, urban population, which includes people without access to stable, safe housing.

Hanley declared an outbreak at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter in late June after 15 cases were confirmed among staff and clients at the facility.

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