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Coronavirus spreads in Egypt’s Al-Qanater Prison

June 8, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Egyptian prisoners [Hossam el-Hamalawy – Flickr]

New suspected coronavirus infections have been detected in Al-Qanater men’s prison, according to the human rights organisation We Record.

The infections are in four detention cells in which most of the prisoners are detained on criminal charges, the organisation reported.

The symptoms began to appear on 23 May and have spread because of the prison administration’s failure to act quickly and put in place preventative measures.

Prison authorities are not taking appropriate measures to protect or test detainees despite the fact that they have experienced high temperatures, muscle ache, fatigue, cough and loss of sense of smell.

Egyptian prisons are overcrowded and have terrible hygiene standards with detainees being forced to share hygiene tools.

The Egyptian regime has consistently prevented prisoners from access to adequate medical care as part of its systematic abuse of detainees.

We Record believe the source of the infection in Al-Qanater is a prison guard identified as Nour, who contracted the virus and passed it on when he came to work.

READ: Coronavirus widens the cracks in Egypt’s cement industry

In March the organisation issued a statement calling on the government to protect the lives of prisoners and immediately release those who met certain requirements, including serving full or half of their maximum detention period.

Last week reports were released that coronavirus was spreading in Tora Prison after detainees in Cell Block 4 reported experiencing symptoms after similar symptoms had been reported in two other blocks within the same prison.

The source of the virus in Tora appeared to be the civil servant Sayed Hijazi who regularly came into contact with prisoners and who died on 29 May from COVID-19.

Egypt has officially recorded a total of 34,079 infections, 1,237 deaths and 8,961 recoveries.

A number of Egyptian officials have said that the actual number of deaths and infections are much higher than stated and that the figures should be multiplied by up to seven times.

The Egyptian government has persevered with a strategy to coexist with the virus and is easing its preventative measures, rather than implementing a full lockdown which experts have said is necessary to stop the spread of the virus.