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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Coronavirus cases in Lebanon’s largest prison soar past 350

Aggrieved relatives of prisoners in Roumieh have protested against their dangerous conditions [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 September, 2020

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Tests have revealed that over 350 prisoners in Lebanon’s Roumieh prison, which lawyers have called a ‘humanitarian time bomb’, are suffering from coronavirus and some prisoners have threatened a mutiny.

Lebanon's largest prison has more than 350 cases of Covid-19, according to new figures released on Wednesday by the police.

The internal security forces issued a statement noting that testing on 956 inmates at Roumieh prison had returned 352 positive results.

The grossly overcrowded prison has witnessed mounting discontent among inmates over a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Videos from inside the prison circulating on social media show some of them threatening a mutiny in the absence of enhanced safety measures.

They want Lebanon's fractious ruling political class to agree an amnesty that would reduce the population in Roumieh. The prison holds around 4,000 inmates, more than three times its intended capacity.

Read also: 'Impunity is a pattern' - The lawyers taking on torture in Lebanon's prisons

Seven infected inmates were hospitalised, the police said, "but all those who remain in prison are in a stable condition."

The head of the country's doctors' union had told AFP on Thursday that coronavirus cases at the prison had exceeded 200.

Speaking to AFP earlier this month, Beirut Bar Association head Melhem Khalaf called the outbreak in Roumieh a "humanitarian time bomb."

Covid-19 infections have surged in Lebanon in recent weeks, especially after a massive explosion at Beirut port on August 4 that killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital.

Since February, Lebanon has recorded a total of 30,838 Covid-19 cases, including 315 deaths.

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