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Two new coronavirus deaths in Egypt’s jails as number of cases rise to 331

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The Committee for Justice (CFJ) has documented the rise in the number of confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) among detainees, police officers and workers in detention facilities in Egypt to a total of 331 cases, with 220 suspected infections and 111 confirmed cases in 48 detention facilities in 13 governorates, according to the Corona Meter recently launched by CFJ and updated on a weekly basis.

The CFJ has also recorded two deaths due to the virus among detainees, police officers and workers in detention facilities in Egypt. Therefore, the total deaths recorded so far are 17 people in 12 detention facilities in 5 governorates as reported last week.

  • Fadel Mahdi Al-Shazly (58 years old – teacher) died on 24 July 2020 inside Minya el-Qamh General Hospital – isolation hospital isolation for COVID-19 patients – after he was transferred to it just one day before his death from his detention in the Minya Al-Qamh police station, where he showed symptoms of infection 10 days before his death.

The police station authorities have refused to provide him with health care as soon as the symptoms appeared on him, and the continued to refuse until the deterioration of his health condition, he was transferred to the hospital in a late condition and a blood test was performed on him, that showed to be COVID-19 positive. The doctors have decided to keep him at the hospital and he was put on a ventilator, his health deteriorated until he died.

Until now, no protective and medical measures have been taken against the prisoners in the same prison although the symptoms of infection have appeared on them due to their contact with Fadel Al-Shazly before his death.

  • Mustafa Abdul Rahman Khalifa (48 years old – lawyer) died on 22 July 2020 in Shebin El Kom Teaching Hospital – the COVID-19 isolation hospital – after he was transferred to it from his prison in Wadi al-Natrun Prisons Area (prison 440), in which there is no medical care for prisoners after the deterioration of his health condition.

Of the 331 confirmed and suspected infections among detainees, according to CFJ data, the interior ministry has only conducted 47 PCR tests and 47 blood tests for detainees based on health ministry protocols, while medical tests were not performed for 54 detainees, and medical measures for 183 detainees remain unknown to CFJ.

Meanwhile, of the 331 injured and suspected detainees, the ministry of interior has implemented isolation measures – most of which do not conform to internationally recognized health standards – for only 151 detainees, while those measures have not been taken for 150 others, which threatens the lives of those who come into contact with them. The isolation procedures for 30 others remain unknown for CFJ.

CFJ has demanded the Egyptian ministry of interior to adhere to the measures of protection and prevention in the face of the spread of the virus, implement awareness-raising measures, and provide information on preventive health measures and the healthy way of life for detainees and workers in detention facilities.

CFJ has also demanded the Egyptian ministry of interior, to show moral courage and transparency in dealing with the crisis, enabling detainees to receive medical care, communicate with their attorneys and families, and provide protection, especially for elderly prisoners and those with chronic diseases who are most at risk.

It is noteworthy that a group of  UN experts has called on the Egyptian government, in an official letter submitted to it recently, to provide information on the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) inside pre-trial detention sites, without the slightest response from the Egyptian government so far.

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