600 Albanian inmates to self-isolate at home in fight against coronavirus: minister

Six hundred inmates in Albania will leave prison temporarily and self-isolate in their homes for a period of three months as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the country’s Justice Minister Etilda Gjonaj announced on Tuesday.

Via a video message on Facebook, Gjonaj said the government has approved a normative act aiming to strengthen measures in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Albanian prisons.

The prisoners who benefit from the act are those who still have three years left from their sentence, as well as those who still have five years left but are over 60 years of age and suffer from a chronic illness.

“Both categories benefit only if they have not committed serious crimes or participated in criminal organizations or groups,” Gjonaj said, adding that the act comes into force on Tuesday.

The minister stressed that the authorities have taken all necessary measures in the country’s prisons, and strengthened medical services aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection.

“All those who are serving their sentences in our prison system have our special focus. We are taking care to protect everyone’s life, regardless of their status,” she said.

During their self-isolatation, meetings between prisoners and their family members are suspended and have been replaced by online communication in order to protect their health and that of their families, Gjonaj noted.

As of Tuesday, Albanian health authorities had confirmed a total of 123 positive coronavirus cases. Ten patients have recovered and five have lost their lives.