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50,000 inmates set for release as Covid explosion hits Thai prisons

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin says about 50,000 prisoners could be released next month as part of urgent plans to tackle the explosion of Covid-19 in Thai prisons

Somsak was speaking on Monday as overcrowded prisons logged 6,853 new cases, accounting for 71 per cent of Thailand’s daily caseload.

The Department of Corrections is continuing its proactive testing programme in prisons, which have so far recorded a total of 10,384 infections.

All prisons will now give weekly reports on the number of inmates infected and recovered from infection, the minister said.

The department has also informed the ministry that it needed stocks of Favipiravia and fah talai jone (Andrographis paniculata) to treat infected prisoners.

Meanwhile, a new drugs law before Parliament would enable about 50,000 inmates convicted of non-serious drugs offences to be released wearing electronic monitoring (EM) bracelets, said Somsak.

Thailand has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, leading to serious prison overcrowding and difficulty in maintaining social distancing necessary to keep Covid-19 from spreading.

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