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200 prisoners contracted COVID-19 in Lebanon

Situation at Beirut’s Roumieh prison alarming, doctors warn of further crisis

Wasim Saifuddin   | 17.09.2020
200 prisoners contracted COVID-19 in Lebanon

ISTANBUL

More than 200 detainees have contracted coronavirus in the Lebanese capital Beirut's Roumieh prison. 

The announcement was made by the Lebanese Medical Association at a news conference, where Doctors Syndicate head Sharaf Abu Sharaf said over 200 infections have been confirmed in Roumieh prison in the suburb of Beirut, calling for speedy trials of prisoners to reduce the number of detainees there.

This came after a leaked video clip was circulated on social media platforms, showing a cell overcrowded with prisoners, breaching the rules on social distancing.

"We are afraid of reaching a worse situation in corona infections, and we demand that private and public hospitals be equipped in advance," warned Abu Sharaf.

A few days ago, the Internal Security Forces announced in a statement that 22 cases of COVID-19 were recorded inside Roumieh prison, including 13 inmates and nine security personnel.

According to local media, Roumieh prison has about 4,000 inmates, about three times more than its capacity, triggering widespread criticism amid the coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, the health minister in the caretaker government Hamad Hassan announced cooperation with the Interior and Defense ministries and allocated two hospitals in the Beqaa governorate and one in Beirut for prisoners and detainees.

Last Monday, dozens of inmate families in the same prison staged a sit-in protest in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, demanding amnesty for the prisoners in fear that they may contract the virus.

Lebanon’s tally of infections stood at 26,083 as of Wednesday, including 259 deaths and 9,634 recoveries.

*Ibrahim Mukhtar contributed to this report from Ankara

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