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Brazil prison deaths increase by 33 percent in the COVID-19 pandemic but four were tied to the virus

An investigation is being called for after 48 inmates died in Brazilian prisons in the last two months but only four were attributed to the coronavirus pandemic – despite records showing respiratory failure was the cause of deaths at some prisons.

The Public Defender’s Office in Rio de Janeiro questioned the Penitentiary Administration Secretariat after the defense group reported this week a 33 percent spike in inmate deaths over the last two months – compared with the same period in 2019 – since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the Rio de Janeiro prison system.

The death totals between March 15 to May 15 were the highest authorities have reported in six years.

Aerial picture showing inmates on top of towers at the Puraquequara prison during a rebellion to demand better conditions inside the prison during which seven prison guards were taken hostage in Manau, Brazil, on May 2

Aerial picture showing inmates on top of towers at the Puraquequara prison during a rebellion to demand better conditions inside the prison during which seven prison guards were taken hostage in Manau, Brazil, on May 2

Aerial picture showing inmates on top of towers at the Puraquequara prison during a rebellion to demand better conditions inside the prison during which seven prison guards were taken hostage in Manau, Brazil, on May 2

Inmates at the Puraquequara prison in Manaus stand on a water tower during a May 2 protest against bad conditions and restrictions on family visits put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus

Inmates at the Puraquequara prison in Manaus stand on a water tower during a May 2 protest against bad conditions and restrictions on family visits put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus

Inmates at the Puraquequara prison in Manaus stand on a water tower during a May 2 protest against bad conditions and restrictions on family visits put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus

Emanuel Queiroz, a criminal defense coordinator for the Public Defender’s Office in Rio de Janeiro, found the four deaths to be a relatively low number of coronavirus fatalities and questioned the finding of respiratory failure.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; cough; fever; chills; muscle pain; sore throat and loss of taste or smell.   

‘Under normal situations, we already have a high death rate in the Rio de Janeiro prison system as a result of the health problem that affects almost all prison units,’ Queiroz said. 

‘The situation, which was already serious in normal times, worsened in extraordinary times like the one we are experiencing today,’ he added. 

Relatives hold their hands up in prayer outside the Puraquequara prison where inmates protested against bad conditions and restrictions on family visits

Relatives hold their hands up in prayer outside the Puraquequara prison where inmates protested against bad conditions and restrictions on family visits

Relatives hold their hands up in prayer outside the Puraquequara prison where inmates protested against bad conditions and restrictions on family visits

Inmates at Puraquequara's prison are seen on the roof as a police helicopter flies over during a May 2 riot following an outbreak of the coronavirus

Inmates at Puraquequara's prison are seen on the roof as a police helicopter flies over during a May 2 riot following an outbreak of the coronavirus

Inmates at Puraquequara’s prison are seen on the roof as a police helicopter flies over during a May 2 riot following an outbreak of the coronavirus

Police officers are seen at Puraquequara's prison during a riot following a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in Manaus, Brazil

Police officers are seen at Puraquequara's prison during a riot following a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in Manaus, Brazil

Police officers are seen at Puraquequara’s prison during a riot following a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in Manaus, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro’s prison system is home to 49,000 detainees, of which 800 are over the age of 60 and considered at risk of being infected with the coronavirus due to their age.

In an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus, the state government postponed jail visits and signed off on the provisional release of 2,200 inmates.

Data released by the health ministry Friday showed that the deadly virus has killed a total of 3,412 residents in Rio, the second-highest amount behind São Paulo.

Brazil ranks third in the world with 312,074 confirmed cases behind the United States and Russia. The South American nation is sixth with 20,112 deaths.

Source: dailymail US

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