'The situation is terrible' – relatives of prisoners on coronavirus in Georgian prisons
Family members of prisoners in Georgia have been making a number of statements since January 9 concerning an outbreak of the coronavirus in the prison system.
The authorities deny there is a massive outbreak and say there are just several isolated cases.
Georgia had its first prison fatality from the coronavirus on January 4. Vivamedi clinic says he was admitted to them in serious condition; he received a coronavirus test for the first time only when he was admitted to hospital.
Family members of prisoners in Ksani prison No. 5 say the situation is particularly dire at the penitentiary facility, and prison employees have also made statements to the effect.
Relatives of inmates say that even when symptoms are present, the prison does not test them and the patients do not receive the treatment they need.
The Ministry of Justice vehemently denies this and states that all suspected cases are investigated and all infected prisoners receive 24-hour medical care.
Official reports say three inmates from the Ksani prison have been transferred to clinics because they developed symptoms of coronavirus, despite the fact that they tested negative.
According to Deputy Public Defender Georgi Burjanadze, the Office of the Ombudsman of Georgia has written to the penitentiary service with a request to provide information on the situation in prisons and on measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
By the time this article was published, the Public Defender’s office had not received a response.
What relatives of prisoners tell
“No one here has ever been checked, is it a joke or something? We are dying, we have no protectors,” these words of one of the prisoners were conveyed by his friend in an interview with TV channel Mtavari Arkhi.
The same prisoner said other inmates are so sick that they cannot get out of bed, and that he had had a temperature of 40.
“Then the whole cell fell ill, but they didn’t open the doors for us, didn’t bring medicine, and didn’t ask at all what was wrong with us. Probably, the entire prison will get sick with coronavirus,” the respondent told the TV channel via the words of his friend.
The relatives of inmates in Gldani prison also say there is a difficult epidemiological situation.
“Two or three prisoners are in a very serious condition. They are not tested or treated. My husband has had a high fever for three to four days”, one of the respondents said in an interview with Mtavari Arkhi.
Lawyer Alexander Kobaidze, who represents the interests of one of those serving a sentence in the Gldani prison, told Pirveli TV that his client had contracted the virus in prison and is now in critical condition.
“They paid attention to him with a great delay, now he is in the Vivamedi clinic,” the lawyer says.
Families of prisoners in women’s prisons also speak of an aggravation of the epidemiological situation.
According to relatives, the state of health of five prisoners in women’s prison No. 5 is deteriorating, they have already been taken to hospitals by ambulance.
The relatives were outraged by the conflicting reports from the management of the Vivamedi clinic, which is responsible for treating prisoners.
In an official letter, the clinic denied that they received prisoners with symptoms of coronavirus. But at the same time, the director of Vivamedi Zurab Chkhaidze in an interview with the Formula TV channel said that two prisoners with coronavirus were brought to the clinic, both in stable condition.
On January 9, family members of prisoners held a rally in Kutaisi, and then at the Geguti prison. Protests took place outside other prisons as well.