Prisons are some of the hardest environments for containing the novel coronavirus because of overcrowding and the difficulty of implementing social distancing.
Rabat – The number of new COVID-19 cases in Moroccan prisons is slowly but steadily declining, as preventive measures are getting the pandemic’s spread under control, the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) announced on Thursday, May 7.
On May 6 and May 7, prisons in seven Moroccan regions did not record any new COVID-19 cases. The concerned regions are Souss-Massa, Guelmim-Oued Noun, Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra, Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab, Rabat-Sale-Kenitra, Marrakech-Safi, and the Oriental region.
In the Casablanca-Settat region, one employee working at the local prison of Ain Borja, northern Casablanca, tested positive for the virus before starting his shift.
Beni Mellal-Khenifra also recorded one new COVID-19 case. The patient was a new inmate transferred to the local prison of Beni Mellal. He tested positive for the virus during the tests new inmates undergo before their admission to the penitentiary facility.
In Fez-Meknes, health authorities did not detect any new COVID-19 cases among inmates. However, two correctional officers at the local prison of Taounate went into quarantine after testing positive before the start of their shifts. A driver working for the local prison of Bourkaiz, southeast of Fez, also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region has so far recorded 15 COVID-19 cases among inmates at the local prison of Tangier 1. Three of the inmates are receiving treatment in a hospital, while the remaining patients are receiving treatment inside the prison. A total of 18 officers also tested positive for COVID-19 at the same prison.
DGAPR also announced two new recoveries on Thursday, one in the local prison of Loudaya in Marrakech and a second in the local prison of Ksar El Kebir, south of Tangier. The recoveries make the two prisons coronavirus-free.
The prison administration launched a mass testing campaign at all Moroccan prisons in the last week of April. The campaign included 73 correctional facilities and covered 1,736 people, including 961 inmates, 711 civil servants, and 64 employees.
The large-scale testing campaign came after the detection of a COVID-19 outbreak in the local prison of Ouarzazate, southern Morocco, in the third week of April. COVID-19 tests at the prison revealed the infection of 241 people.
Health authorities have already declared 31 correctional officers and 116 detainees clear of the virus, while 25 inmates are recovering. After catching COVID-19, they have tested negative for the disease and are awaiting results from a second test. Morocco is requiring recovered COVID-19 patients to get two negative test results before being considered fully recovered.
Since the start of the outbreak in Morocco, DGAPR implemented a series of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside prisons. The institution first limited family visits to one visit per week, before banning them altogether. Prisons have also separated correctional officers into two groups and adopted two-week-long shifts.
Health authorities at Moroccan prisons perform medical tests on all officers before they start their shift. If suspected of carrying the virus, the officers undergo COVID-19 tests as well. The last wave of COVID-19 tests covered 2,261 officers from 45 prisons.