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3 Turkish prisoners die out of 17 infected with coronavirus: minister

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Three Turkish prisoners have died of the coronavirus, Turkey’s justice minister said on Monday as he announced the first cases of convicts diagnosed with the disease, AFP reported.

A total of 17 convicts in five “open” prisons have contracted the virus, Abdülhamit Gül told reporters in Ankara.

“Three of them unfortunately died during their treatment in the hospital,” he said.

Some convicts are sent to what are called “open” prisons towards the end of their sentences as the state prepares them for release. They are given permission to leave for temporary periods and must accept work.

Thirteen of the sick convicts are in good condition in the hospital, Gul said, but one prisoner with underlying conditions remains in intensive care.

He did not give any further details on where the prisoners were but insisted the necessary precautions had been taken in every jail.

“There are no positive cases in closed prisons,” he added.

Turkey has nearly 57,000 COVID-19 infections and around 1,200 have died, according to health ministry figures published on Sunday.

The confirmation of positive cases came before Turkish lawmakers were expected to continue debating a bill on Monday to release 90,000 inmates from overcrowded prisons.

Human rights groups have criticized the proposal because it will not include political prisoners charged under Turkey’s controversial anti-terrorism laws.

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