Qatar admits virus hit 12 in prison

Qatar, where expatriates make up the majority of the population, has like other Gulf states seen the virus spread among low-wage foreign workers living in cramped quarters. (AFP)
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Updated 20 May 2020

Qatar admits virus hit 12 in prison

Qatar admitted on Tuesday that there were 12 cases of COVID-19 at a jail following a warning by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that prisoners could be at risk of contracting the disease.

HRW had said that six non-Qatari detainees “described a deterioration in prison conditions” at Doha’s Central Prison.

“They said that the prison authorities also further restricted prisoners’ limited access to basic medical care,” it added describing the situation as “an apparent outbreak.”

Michael Page, HRW’s deputy Middle East director, called for the release of “vulnerable prisoners such as older people and those held for low level or nonviolent offenses.”

Qatar, where expatriates make up the majority of the population, has like other Gulf states seen the virus spread among low-wage foreign workers living in cramped quarters.

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The prison authorities restricted prisoners’ limited access to basic medical care, HRW had quoted detainees as saying, describing the situation as ‘an apparent outbreak.’

Almost 34,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the tiny Gulf country — 1.2 percent of the 2.75 million population — although just 15 people have died.

Masks have been mandatory in public places in Qatar since Sunday in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Violators of the new rules will face up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000, the world’s toughest penalties for failing to wear a face covering.

Anyone leaving their home will also be required to install a contact tracing app on their phones from Friday.


UK govt: British women strip-searched in Qatar

Updated 29 October 2020

UK govt: British women strip-searched in Qatar

  • London describes incident as ‘unacceptable’
  • Strip-search took place in Doha airport

LONDON: British authorities have formally registered concerns with Qatar following reports that two women who are UK nationals were strip-searched in Doha.

The forced medical examinations were carried out in Doha airport after authorities discovered a newborn baby in a bin.

This, it is claimed, prompted them to conduct “urgently decided” intrusive examinations, described as “absolutely terrifying” by one of 13 Australian women on a flight to Sydney who were subjected to them.

The British women were part of a group that was forced to disembark flights before having their underwear removed for a female medical professional to carry out an examination assessing if they had recently given birth.

The complaint was registered by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which said in a statement: “We are providing ongoing support to two British women following an incident in Doha. We have formally expressed our concern with the Qatari authorities and Qatar Airways and are seeking assurances an unacceptable incident like this cannot happen again.”

Australian officials said passengers from 10 flights leaving Doha on Oct. 2 were subjected to the ordeal.

“The advice that has been provided indicates that the treatment of the women concerned was offensive, grossly inappropriate, and beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent,” said a spokeswoman for the office of Australia’s foreign minister.

Sources familiar with the incident have said the newborn is alive and in care, and the mother has not been identified.

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