PRINCE ALBERT -- Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert is dealing with 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its inmates, according to the union representing prison staff. 

The first positive case was confirmed on Dec. 12 and testing of all the inmates and staff is currently underway and the number of cases could rise according to Regional President, Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, James Bloomfield. 

Bloomfield said the prison's framework for COVID-19 cases is to isolate infected inmates to one unit.

“As soon as an inmate tests positive they're then moved and isolated to a separate area that is completely isolated from the rest of the prison,” Bloomfield said. “They will be maintained in that unit, there will not be a rotating staff going through that area.”

No staff have tested positive to this point, Bloomfield said. Correctional Services Canada (CSC) is administering more tests to inmates and staff on Monday.  

Testing is also starting for all asymptomatic staff as well, Bloomfield said.

The CSC said it provides its own health care to inmates and has dedicated health care professionals in its institutions and will closely monitor the health of inmates.

"CSC is also equipped to conduct its own testing, including using rapid tests, to identify positive cases quickly. These are then laboratory-confirmed,” CSC said in a news release.

The 24 infections have been identified among inmates on the medium-security unit that has the capacity of 457 offenders, CSC said, adding in-person visitations are temporarily suspended and other options are being offered to inmates to connect with their family and support networks such as video visitation or telephone.

Inmate testing numbers are updated daily from Monday to Friday and available on the CSC website