An inmate at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health has confirmed.

The inmate, who has no active symptoms, will remain isolated for 14 days from the date of the positive test, according to a spokesperson for Ottawa Public Health.

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Defence lawyer Michael Spratt said Sunday that he has heard from a client at OCDC who is concerned about possible spread of COVID-19 and what happens if he becomes ill. Not only are inmates unable to take the same steps to protect themselves that they could if they were in the community, including wearing masks and social distancing, but Spratt said his client is “well aware that being sick in jail is a very unpleasant experience compared to being sick at home.”

Spratt said the conditions in the jail are similar to other institutions where COVID-19 has spread once inside.

“When you have a large number of people, especially when a disproportionate number of those people are marginalized and already have health concerns one case … is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Spratt and other defence lawyers have been arguing for bail for clients because of the risk of COVID-19 in the jail. Until now, Spratt said, most Crown attorneys have argued that the jail is “perfectly safe” and, in most cases, bail has been denied.

He said those decisions to deny bail because the jail is safe should now be reevaluated.

“If it makes its way into the jail, it can spread like wildfire. Just because the jail has been lucky, it doesn’t make things safer.”

Read Elizabth Payne’s full article: Ottawa Citizen

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