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Coronavirus deaths in Egypt jails rise to 15 after one more case recorded in Zagazig

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The Committee for Justice (CFJ) has documented the continued increase of Covid-19 infections and deaths in Egyptian prisons and detention facilities amid the continued failure of the Ministry of the Interior to implement the necessary medical measures to protect detainees with the already poor health care in those places.

The number of those who contracted the virus, and those suspected to have it among detainees, police officers and staff working at detention facilities has increased to 193 cases, 144 of whom are suspected cases, while 49 others have tested positive.

CJF has documented the spread of the virus in 42 detention facilities in 12 governorates, according to the Corona Meter live monitor we launched recently. The monitor is updated on a weekly basis.

Cases of suspected and confirmed coronavirus deaths have increased to 15, following the death of Osama Ahmed Abdelhamid Al-Faramawy who had been a detainee at the Zagazig Public Prison.

Faramawy, a 53-year-old teacher, was a political prisoner. He had been held in custody at the above-mentioned prison after facing charges in a highly-political case, including taking part in protests and membership of a banned group. On 25 June, Faramawy appeared at the Zagazig Criminal Court which decided to renew his detention for 45 more days pending investigations into the aforementioned charges.

During his court appearance, Faramawy showed symptoms of severe illness, but he did not know the cause of that illness. In the following days, after his return to his Zagazig prison, he showed clear symptoms of Covid-19. Prison authorities did not provide him with medical care despite his repeated requests. His health has subsequently deteriorated and eventually he suffered from respiratory failure.

As a result, the prison administration transferred him on 3 July to an isolation hospital, the Ahrar Educational Hospital in Zagazig. Upon his arrival, he underwent a blood test and a CT scan on the chest. He tested positive for Covid-19, and was then placed on a ventilator. His health continued to worsen, however, and he passed away on 6 July 2020.

Meanwhile, the Zagazig Public Prison Administration has set aside a place to isolate those infected and suspected of being infected with the virus, although that place is not equipped with medical facilities. The prison administration has been intransigent in transferring the detainees with serious conditions to a hospital to receive the necessary medical care.

Conditions are still deteriorating inside a number of detention facilities in Egypt, particularly in the Sharkia and Cairo governorates. The Ministry of Interior has so far failed to take protective measures to counter the spread of the virus inside prisons and detention facilities. It has also failed to implement alternative measures to safeguard the rights of prisoners after banning visits to detainees since10 March.

CFJ reiterates its demand to Egyptian authorities to take the necessary measures to provide the highest levels of health care in detention facilities, in light of the documented outbreak of Covid-19 in several prisons and detention facilities across the country.

Additionally, CFJ calls on authorities to allow detainees to communicate with their families through safe messages as a right enshrined in laws, including letters or phone calls.

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