To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, many countries released prisoners with less jail terms left and of no risk to society. However, for Morocco the inevitable has happened as about 313 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in three of its prisons.
This information came to bare after a screening campaign was organised in 73 prisons across the country, prison officials said on Tuesday.
About 1,736 people were tested in total. The mass testing was, however, propelled by one positive case in Ouarzazate prison last week, according to a statement by the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR).
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Ouarzazate prison recorded the highest number of positive cases, a total of 303 and 10 other cases were in Oudaya prison in Marrakesh and Ksar Kebir prison in the north-west, BBC reported.
Majority of those who had tested positive were prisoners, but a few of the prison wardens also tested positive. Further tests are under way for two employees and three inmates of the Tangiers prison.
After the mass testing, infected inmates were isolated while officials were hospitalised. Personal Protective Equipment have also been distributed to the remaining prison staff, according to DGAPR.
The prison authorities have fortified its health measures, cut down visiting rights for many and suspended all activities that involved people outside the facilities. Some prison officials who were suspected to have encountered potential virus carriers were also subjected to quarantines.
To inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, authorities have restricted the movement of prisoners to court rooms and public facilities including public hospitals unless otherwise stated or only under extreme emergencies. Courts are still in session, but cases are tried and heard remotely in various courts. New inmates are also tested for HIV, Africa news reports.
Moroccan prisons have nearly 80,000 inmates. More than 5,654 inmates were pardoned by the king in early April to mitigate the risk of spreading the novel COVID-19 in their heavily overcrowded prisons.
Inasmuch as some 5,000 inmates have been pardoned, the prisons registered 5,484 new arrivals between 16 March and 21 April, according to figures obtained from DGAPR.
So far the Kingdom of Morocco has recorded 4,252 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 165 deaths and 778 recoveries.