Thai inmates riot to demand better COVID-19 treatment

BANGKOK (AP) — Hundreds of inmates set fire at a prison in southern Thailand in a riot over demands for better medical care for those suffering from COVID-19, officials said Friday.

Some 400 inmates at Krabi’s main provincial prison became violent late Thursday night when a core group demanded that those infected with the coronavirus be removed from the facility for treatment, according to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin.

They began by destroying property in their sleeping area and setting fires, said Police Maj. Gen. Chaiwat Ouikham, according to the Bangkok Post newspaper. About 300 police and other security personnel were sent to the facility as the destruction escalated.

Three inmates who tried to climb over the prison wall were injured with rubber bullets. No deaths have been reported.

Following negotiations overnight, provincial Gov. Puthipong Sirimat agreed to immediately send 14 inmates with severe COVID-19 symptoms for treatment.

Puthipong told reporters after calm was restored Friday that provincial heath staff provided ATK tests for some of the inmates and found around 200 were infected. Female inmates were being sent to other prisons in an attempt to ease overcrowding at the facility, which houses more than 2,000 people.

Coronavirus infection has hit Thailand’s 300,000-strong prison population hard. Up until Thursday, the Corrections Department reported a total of 86,432 cases, including 185 deaths.

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