More than 300 virus cases in Morocco prisons

AFP , Tuesday 28 Apr 2020

More than 300 cases of novel coronavirus have been detected at three Moroccan prisons after a campaign of testing of inmates and guards in the country's 73 jails, the prisons service said Tuesday.

After more than 1,700 tests across the country, it said 303 infections were recorded at a jail in the southern town of Ouarzazate, 62 of them prison employees.

Ten others were found in the central city of Marrakesh and in Ksar Kebir in the north.

Further tests were being carried to confirm five possible cases at Tangiers prison.

The prison service has said the virus in Morocco's jails, which hold nearly 80,000 inmates, are under control thanks to "preventive measures" such as quarantines and remotely held court hearings.

In early April, more than 5,650 detainees were released under royal pardons in an effort to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the country's notoriously overcrowded penitentiaries.

However, almost 5,500 new inmates were registered between March 15 and April 21, according to prison service figures.

Morocco has confirmed 4,252 cases of coronavirus, including 165 deaths from COVID-19 and 778 recoveries.

The kingdom has imposed strict social distancing measures and made it compulsory to wear masks outside.

Its public health state of emergency is to remain in place until at least May 20.

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