Coronavirus: Prison riots erupt ‘after reports of Covid-19 infections and symptoms among inmates’ in Italy

Inmates take over a section of a prison during a disturbance which lasts for several hours

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 07 April 2020 00:34
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Prison riots have broken out in southern Italy following reports of inmates testing positive for coronavirus or of displaying symptoms of the infection, according to local media.

Around 150 prisoners protested after news spread of a Covid-19 case at a jail in Caserta in Campania on Sunday.

Inmates took over a section of Santa Maria Capua Vetere prison in a disturbance which lasted for several hours, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

Some threatened to throw hot oil on people who came near them, the agency reported.

In nearby Naples, prisoners hit metal objects against the bars of their cells after hearing reports of potential coronavirus symptoms in the prison.

Bedsheets hung from the Secondigliano jail with messages saying “Covid-19 has entered the prison: help us” and “We are here to pay, but not with our lives”, according to Napoli Today.

No guards were injured in either protest, Aldo di Giacomo, the secretary general of a prison guard union, told The Independent.

Prison riots erupted across Italy last month as its coronavirus outbreak escalated.

The justice minister said around 6,000 prisoners had been involved in unrest at more than two dozen facilities in early March.

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Alfonso Bonafede said he was aware that many inmates were worried about their health and prison conditions as the virus was rapidly spreading through the country.

Inmates also protested last month as prison authorities announced family visits would be banned or limited in a bid to contain the virus.

At least 12 prisoners died following the riots, while a jail in Foggia saw nearly 60 prisoners break loose amid the chaos.

Italy has imposed sweeping measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, with people only allowed outside of their homes for trips deemed essential, such as to buy food or medicine.

It has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the pandemic, with the number of doctors who have died during the outbreak rising to 87 after the weekend.

Nearly 129,000 people have been infected by Covid-19 in Italy to date. The death toll stood at around 15,800 on Monday, according to official figures.

On Monday, the region of Tuscany started to distribute masks for its 3.7 million residents. Masks will be required when in public once they reach each household.

Civil Protection volunteers unloaded cartons of the first batch of some 620,000 masks from a warehouse to be distributed to towns and cities throughout the central region.

Volunteers are working around the clock to distribute three masks each to every resident. Once local authorities confirm everyone has received their share, the Tuscany governor's order to wear them in public will go into effect.

Tuscany has nearly 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, while Lombardy, Italy's most afflicted region, made a similar mandatory mask-wearing order last week.

Prison authorities in Campania have been approached for comment on the riots.

Additional reporting by AP

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