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Coronavirus: Prison Fever

People are preparing, at different levels, for life in containment. But the COVID-19 does not stop at prison gates. // Updated on 29 March 2020 at 16:15

The COVID-19 epidemic broke out in December 2019 in the province of Hubei (China). The virus is spreading and is now present in 177 countries or regions. The number of infected people is of 680,000.1

People are preparing, at different levels, for life in containment. But the COVID-19 does not stop at prison gates. Prisoners often live in overcrowded cells and unsanitary contexts. They share cells no bigger than a few square feet, or collective dormitories. The general health condition of prisoners is worse than the overall population. Basic measures of prevention are hindered by poor material conditions and an uneven access to health.

What measures are taken to guarantee the safety of all prisoners and prison staff? What are the consequences of the pandemic on the living conditions in prisons? Here is an overview.



  1. John Hopkins Baltimore University (CSSE). This interactive map is updated in real time with the data made available by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and by Ministries and health administrations of various countries. Browse the map.

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En Amérique

Coronavirus & prisons

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En Asie

Coronavirus & prisons

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En Europe

Coronavirus & prisons

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More information

  • The interactive map of the John Hopkins University

  • The call of 42 European NGOs to international institutions including the WHO and the Council of Europe

  • The statement of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) for the establishment of effective measures to protect public health and safety, including for the most vulnerable

  • The briefing note by Penal Reform International

  • The article COVID-19 in prison by the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) in Geneva, Switzerland

  • The statement of principles related to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of Covid-19 by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)

  • Joint statement of 26 national and international stakeholders calling for immediate emergency measures to protect the rights of prisoners in Africa

  • Interim recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the COVID-19 management in prisons and other places of detention

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