Egypt shows off ‘coronavirus-free’ Tora prison

By Carles Grau Sivera

Cairo, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- The Egyptian authorities insist that Tora maximum security prison is coronavirus-free despite recent reports by human rights organizations on the spread of Covid-19 in Egypt’s overcrowded penitentiaries.

Since March 2020, both local and international NGOs have warned that the Egyptian prisons could become coronavirus “epicenters” given their 300 percent occupation rates.

They have also criticized what they deemed as the government’s lack of transparency on health conditions within its detention centers.

Egyptian authorities, however, claim that the penitentiaries, with Tora at the forefront, are coronavirus-free. NGOs have raised concerns over the situation in Tora, especially at the treatment of the inmates, many of whom are political prisoners.

No coronavirus cases have been detected in the prison, located southwestern Cairo, Tareq Marzouq, assistant Minister of the Interior for the prisons affairs told Efe during a visit to the penitentiaries.

“We have not registered cases of coronavirus so far, due to the application of the State’s instructions,” he told Efe as he reviewed the health protocols in place.

These protocols include isolation cells, medical treatment and reduced visits to prisoners, which were suspended for several months last year.

The place is “safe” because “prisons are easy to apply (preventive) measures due to low circulation of people,” he added.

NGOs and prisoners’ families have denounced the suspension of or limitations to visiting rights as a form of punishment for the inmates, who do not receive proper medical care and do not have the means to protect themselves from coronavirus.

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