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Egypt: Third detainee dies of suspected coronavirus

June 15, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Inmates are seen inside an Egyptian prison on 19 November 2019 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Images]

A third detainee has died of suspected coronavirus in detention in Egypt.

Saad Abdelal, 48, was detained in Tora Prison before he died.

The rights organisation We Record had already reported that coronavirus infections have spread to two out of four cell blocks in Tora Prison.

Saad’s death follows the passing of Hassan Ziada who died of suspected COVID-19 a week ago in Al-Mahalla Public Hospital in Gharbia whilst his hands and legs were bound to the hospital bed.

The 54-year-old teacher was arrested at the end of March after shouting “God is the greatest” in the street as part of a religious campaign against the pandemic.

The Committee for Justice said that Ziada caught the virus in Al-Mahalla Police Station where there were 19 additional suspected cases at the time.

At the end of last week Moawad Suliman, 65, also died after contracting the virus in the same police station after displaying covid type symptoms.

READ: 2 more Egypt doctors die of coronavirus

After months of warning Egyptian authorities that a covid outbreak in detention centres would be a disaster due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions prisoners are kept in, the virus appears to be spreading.

We Record has documented some 100 suspected coronavirus cases in nine cells in the 10th Ramadan Police Station.

Coronavirus infections have been documented in four detention cells at Al-Qanater men’s prison.

Prison authorities fail to act quickly and put in place preventative measures, test the detainees or isolate them, according to critics.

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

Since the start of the pandemic, rights groups and politicians from around the world have renewed calls on the Egyptian government to release political prisoners especially those who have served their maximum period in detention to ease overcrowding and slow the spread of the virus.

Egypt’s top medical union has warned that the health care system will collapse without government help as the country reels from shortages of PPE and space in isolation wards.