Global Outbreaks

News about COVID-19 in Prisons across the World



Coronavirus Stalks Cells of Cameroon’s Crowded Prisons, The New York Times, July 9, 2020

Of 832 samples collected from inmates released from five prisons in April, 358 tested positive for COVID-19, according to the unpublished government data – 16% of the national total at the beginning of May. The majority of positive samples came from Yaounde Central Prison, Cameroon’s largest, where the infection rate of those released and tested was 58%. Its population is still around 3,000, three times capacity, said the senior prison official.

DR Congo

DR Congo: Prisons Face Covid-19 Catastrophe, Human Rights Watch, Apr 17, 2020


Coronavirus spreads in Egypt’s Al-Qanater Prison, MEMO, Jun 8, 2020

New suspected coronavirus infections have been detected in Al-Qanater men’s prison, according to the human rights organisation We Record. The infections are in four detention cells in which most of the prisoners are detained on criminal charges, the organisation reported. The symptoms began to appear on 23 May and have spread because of the prison administration’s failure to act quickly and put in place preventative measures.

South Africa

More than 100 more prisoners test positive for Covid-19, The Herald, Jun 12, 2020

The department of correctional services has recorded more than 100 new Covid-19 cases in prisons in the past 24 hours. The department has 1,425 confirmed Covid-19 cases to date, with 510 of those being officials and 915 inmates.


200 inmates, warders quarantined as prisons confirms first Covid-19 case, Daily Monitor, Jun 11, 2020

At least 199 inmates and 24 Prisons officers are currently under quarantine at Kaiti prison in Namutumba District for 14 days after a former inmate tested positive for Covid-19.


Prisons coronavirus infections probed, The Herald, Jun 04, 2020

Six people — four inmates and two prison officers — have tested positive for Covid-19.


Asia: Reduce Prison Populations Facing COVID-19, United Nations, Apr 06, 2020


Nearly 1,000 Russian federal prison authority’s staff, over 200 inmates contract COVID-19, TASS, May 25, 2020

“To date, the number of confirmed cases of disease caused by COVID-19 among suspects, defendants and convicts stands at 238, and there are 980 cases among staff and workers of the service,” the press service said.


Two inmates succumb to coronavirus in Karachi, The Express Tribune, May 31, 2020

Over 450 prisoners at Karachi Central Jail had earlier tested positive for the contagious disease. Of them, 150 were said to have recovered on Sunday after receiving fresh screening results.


Philippine jails release over 15,000 inmates amid pandemic, Arab News, July 3, 2020

745 prisoners, 125 personnel in Philippine jails test positive for coronavirus, Rappler, Jun 11, 2020

In a span of 3 weeks, over 200 prisoners and dozens of personnel in Philippine jails tested postitive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) announced on Thursday, June 11, that as of the same day, 745 prisoners and 125 personnel have tested positive for the virus. Among the 745 prisoners… 6 have died.

COVID-19 cases in prisons jump to 194; 161 are inmates, PhilStar, May 27, 2020

The number of COVID-19 infections at the Bureau of Corrections rose to 194, and 161 of these are convicts in the bureau’s overcrowded facilities, the Department of Justice reported on Wednesday.


Prison Conditions and COVID-19 in the Americas, United Nations, May 05, 2020

Latin America: Cut Prison Crowding to Fight COVID-19, Human Rights Watch, Apr 02, 2020


Deaths in Brazilian prisons increased by 33 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic but only four were tied to the deadly virus as prisoner advocacy group calls for investigation, Daily Mail, May 22, 2020


Coronavirus: The Colombian jail with 859 cases, BBC, May 12, 2020

Coronavirus hits Colombian prison population hard, The Bogota Post, Jun 04, 2020

Despite local and international warnings about the spread of coronavirus among vulnerable prison populations, Colombia has seen brutal outbreaks of the virus in at least nine of its detention facilities… As of June 2, the [hardest hit] prison had 878 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Meta governor Juan Guillermo Zuluaga tweeted. This represents more than 45% of the prison’s reported population. At least three inmates have died after contracting the virus in the prison.


Covid-19: The Risk in Mexican Prisons, Human Rights Watch, June 4, 2020


Panama- 702 prisoners with coronavirus, MENAFN, Jun 04, 2020

The number of cases of coronavirus in Panama’s overcrowded prisons has climbed to 702 confirmed the Penitentiary System on Thursday, June 4. The center of Santiago (Veraguas) has the highest number of affected detainees.


England and Wales

Prison visits could resume in July in England and Wales, The Guardian, Jun 02, 2020

As of 5pm on Sunday, 466 inmates across 79 prisons and 923 staff across 105 prisons had tested positive for coronavirus. The figures are not live cases and include those who have recovered. So far, 23 prisoners and nine staff are known to have died.

Coronavirus: Two Pentonville Prison staff members die, BBC, April 5, 2020


Prison Service submits best practice paper to WHO after no inmate tests Covid-19 positive, RTE, Jun 10, 2020

Currently there are 3,705 prisoners nationwide and no detainee that has been screened and tested has had a positive Covid-19 result.


In Italy’s overcrowded prisons, fear of coronavirus, Politico, Mar 30, 2020

At least 15 inmates have tested positive for the virus, creating a buildup of panic and anger among inmates. Two prison guards have died from the virus and unions say at least 150 others are ill, although there are no official figures.

Wider Steps Needed to Protect Prisoners’ Health in Italy, Human Rights Watch, Mar 20, 2020


COVID-19 has reached Ukraine’s prisons, Open Democracy, Jun 08, 2020

The official figures state that out of a total of 53,000 inmates of penal colonies and pre-trial detention centres, only 507 have been laboratory tested for COVID-19, and only 21 have tested positive.

Middle East


The Risk Of Coronavirus In Afghanistan’s Prisons Is Complicating Peace Efforts, KPCW May 6, 2020.


New COVID-19 Outbreak in Iran’s Prisons, Regime’s Inaction, and a Looming Catastrophe, NCRI, Jun 04, 2020

Since last week, many of the inmates in different wards of Urmia prison had symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, shivering, sore throat, loss of taste and smell, aches, and pain.  The prison authorities’ negligence has resulted in the spread of the virus across Urmia Central Prison, infecting all prisoners. Following repetitive protests by prisoners, and fearing another round of riots, the regime’s authorities tested some of the inmates, all of whom tested positive for COVID-19. These few inmates were transferred to hospital.


31 inmates contract COVID-19 at Iraqi prison, Anadolu Agency, May 7, 2020


268 prisoners test positive for COVID-19 in Kuwait, World Gulf June 12, 2020

Kuwait has said that 285 inmates in its central prison tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as the country is battling to contain the highly contagious disease. The cases were detected after COVID-19 tests were conducted on the prisoners, the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Security Relations and Media said.

United Arab Emirates

UAE: Reported Covid-19 Prison Outbreaks, Human Rights Watch, Jun 10, 2020

Prison authorities should take urgent measures to protect the mental and physical health of prisoners amid reported Covid-19 outbreaks in at least three detention facilities across the country.