COVID-19 outbreak declared at Toronto East Detention Centre after employee tests positive for Omicron variant

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the Toronto East Detention Centre after five people tested positive for COVID-19, including at least one who is confirmed to have contracted the Omicron variant.

Toronto Public Health declared the outbreak on Thursday afternoon, noting that it was doing so “out of an abundance of caution” because an individual linked to the facility was under investigation by the Durham Regional Health Department with a suspected case of the Omicron variant.

In an update early Friday evening, Toronto Public Health said that it can now confirm that a staff member at the facility does have a case of the Omricron variant following “the receipt of further test results.”

They also said that an additional four inmates have since tested positive for COVID-19, though it is unclear whether those cases also involve the Omicron variant.

“The strain of COVID for these individuals is unknown at this time,” Toronto Public Health said in a series of messages posted to Twitter. “We continue to work with Toronto East Detention Centre and the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General to ensure appropriate measures are taken to minimize the risk to staff and inmates, as well as conduct case and contact management.”

Toronto Public Health said that it began an investigation at the Toronto East Detention Centre on Nov. 26 after being notified about a possible COVID-19 exposure.

It said that the correctional institution then began redirecting new admissions on Nov. 29 as a precaution.

In a statement provided to CP24, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said that it is aware of the outbreak at the facility and will continue to work collaboratively with its partners at Toronto Public Health “to manage the active COVID case linked to the facility and to continue to protect staff and inmates in its custody.”

The ministry also said that it will be testing all inmates and staff at the facility.

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