Leaked Message from Egypt’s Scorpion Prison Reveals 300 COVID-19 Infections Among Inmates

A message leaked from the detainees in the infamous high-security Torah Prison-992, known as the Al-Aqrab “Scorpion” Prison has revealed that there are about 300 coronavirus infections among inmates amid complete negligence from the prison administration.

The leaked message released on 21 Sunday and titled “Appeal to the Whole World in General and to Our Great Egyptian People in Particular” complained of the Egyptian authorities’ negligence of the medical conditions of inmates in the high-security Scorpion Prison amid spread of COVID-19 among them.

“We send you our message, which may be the last, to tell you about spread of the coronavirus pandemic in most prison wards. The number of cases with symptoms of COVID-19 infection has increased to more than 300 detainees, without any action taken by the prison administration!”, the statement said, adding that the infected cases were not isolated or provided with appropriate medical care; and none of the patients were transferred to hospitals and intensive care rooms.”

The message said the prison administration did not respond to calls detainees to rescue the COVID-19 infected cases.

The detainees wondered about the expected role of the public prosecutors overseeing the prisons, and the “conscience” of the prison administration which is supposed to preserve their lives.

The political detainees also said in their leaked message: “We are not criminals but victims of trumped-up charges as a result of a political dispute with the existing regime,” adding “While there are no procedures to treat infected cases or even to prevent the spread of the virus among detainees, on the contrary, there is an extremely secretive state is imposed the reality of medical conditions inside the prison!!”

The political detainees also said: “We hold everyone responsible for any deaths that may occur during the coming hours, and we demand an immediate transfer of the COVID-19 infected cases to specialized hospitals and isolation of other detainees that have been in contact with them,” adding, “We also demand the immediate release of all detainees in Egyptian prisons because the situation is about to completely get out of control, in the light of preventing visits and exercise, malnutrition, poor ventilation and spread of insects in wards.”

At the end of their message, the Scorpion Prison detainees said, “We reaffirm that we are innocent, not murderers, nor criminals; and that inmates include among them scientists, doctors, engineers, and teachers from all of the Egyptian spectrum.”

Two More Detainees Die of Coronavirus in Egypt’s Prisons

In a similar context, a popular campaign to support detainees and the enforced disappeared in Egypt, called “ Hakkuhum” (Their Right), said that an Egyptian detainee named Hamdi Abdel-Al Rayyan (60 years) died in the prison of the security forces camp in the Tenth of Ramadan City in Sharqia Governorate, north of Cairo.

The campaign confirmed that Abdel-Al died due to a medical negligence after contracting COVID-19 symptoms, adding: “Despite of COVID-19 symptoms that appeared on him, the prison administration left him suffering and did not transfer him to hospital.”

The Hakkuhum campaign also pointed to the death of another detainee, Yasser Salama Mohamed Abul-Ela, has been on remand under case No. 9365 of 2019, in Tanta Prison, north of Cairo, after he contracted coronavirus.

In another context, the campaign revealed that “the Ministry of the Interior transferred all political detainees from the quarantine of Al-Mahalla General Hospital to Tanta prison, which is crowded with political and criminal detainees, despite their incomplete recovery from infection with coronavirus.”

Thousands of political detainees in Egyptian prisons face the risk of death due to the outbreak of the novel COVID-19, as well as torture and “deliberate” medical neglect, and the prison administration’s  failure to provide any health care to them, as human rights activists affirm.