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Coronavirus spreads in Egypt’s Tora Prison

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by Egypt's State Information Service on February 11, 2020, shows an Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
An Egyptian police officer enters the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 11 February 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Suspected coronavirus cases have been detected in two out of four blocks of Egypt’s notorious Tora Prison, human rights organisation We Record reports.

The cases cannot be confirmed to be the virus due to the regime’s refusal to conduct tests.

We Record has said they believe the infection came from Ministry of Interior employee Sayed Hijazi who died from the virus on 29 May.

Hijazi regularly came into contact with prisoners, officers and the police.

The news comes after other rights groups warned that several prisoners have experienced covid-type symptoms including high temperatures, muscle ache, fatigue, sore throat, cough and loss of sense of smell.

Prison authorities are not taking appropriate measures to protect or test detainees. Experts have warned since the beginning of the pandemic that the overcrowded prison cells and poor levels of hygiene would be rife breeding ground for the rapid spread of the virus.

READ: Anger in Egypt over hospitals’ rejection to treat woman infected with COVID-19

Governments across the world have called on the Egyptian regime to release prisoners to ease conditions inside but instead of pardoning political prisoners authorities have released detainees convicted on criminal charges, including former policeman Mohsen Al-Sukkari who killed a Lebanese pop star in 2008.

For years prison authorities have denied detainees medical care and blocked the entry of medicine leading in some cases to their death.

Last week Mohammed Khater Ghamry became the eighth person to die in an Egyptian detention centre in May alone and the second to die in Belbeis Police Station after he was denied critical medical care for suspected coronavirus.

At the time of his death the Geneva-based Committee for Justice rep prisoorted that at least four detainees were suffering from covid symptoms.

Despite the government announcement that they are seeking to coexist with the virus and the gradual loosening of preventative measures, Egypt’s infection rate continues to rise.

On Sunday, Egypt reported 1,536 new infections and 46 deaths, the highest daily rise so far for the fourth consecutive day.

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