Covid-19 spreads to 12 Thailand prisons infecting 9,789 people

Chiang Mai prison / Photo via Department of Corrections ประชาสัมพันธ์ กรมราชทัณฑ์

Over the past week, 12 prisons in Thailand have reported Covid-19 infections infecting thousands of inmates. Out of the 9,789 Covid-19 infections reported by the Department of Corrections, nearly 4,000 cases were reported at the Chiang Mai Central Prison.

Outbreaks at the Bangkok Remand Prison and Central Women’s Correctional Institution were first reported last week after a pro-democracy protest leader announced that she tested positive for Covid-19 a week after she was released from the women’s prison. She had been held in detention for 8 weeks awaiting trial for lese majeste charges which carry an up to 15 year prison sentence for insulting or defaming the Thai Monarchy.

At the Central Women’s Correctional Institution, where 1,039 people are infected, the outbreak started from a new inmate who was infected with the coronavirus, the department’s director general said in an earlier statement. At the Bangkok Remand Prison, where 1,960 people are infected, a department official who was infected with Covid-19 apparently caused the outbreak infecting more than half the prison population.

Following the news of the Covid-19 outbreaks at 2 Bangkok prisons, human rights activists have called on Thai authorities to reduce overcrowding in the prisons, a longstanding problem in Thailand, by releasing inmates who are incarcerated on minor charges or who are being held in court detention for non-violent offences.

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In an earlier statement, the Human Rights Watch said that Thai authorities need to act immediately to make sure inmates who are infected with Covid-19 get equal and adequate health care, which is required under international law.

Most of the infected inmates are being treated at field hospitals set up outside the prison, or at the Department of Corrections hospital, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun said during today’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting. Those in serious condition have been admitted to hospitals, he said.

Natapanu added that the Thai government is providing adequate health care for the infected inmates in line with legal standards.

Prison Covid-19 cases
Chiang Mai Central Prison 3,929
Bangkok Remand Prison 1,960
Central Women’s Correctional Institution 1,039
Khlong Prem Central Prison 1,016
Thon Buri Remand Prison 1,725
Nonthaburi Central Prison 59
Chachoengsao Central Prison 43
Central Special Treatment Centre 12
Min Buri Prison 2
Narathawit Prison 2
Mae Sot Prison 1
Samut Prakan Central Prison 1

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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