Covid-19 and prisons: a reflection on public health and human rights

Background and Objectives: The 2019 coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) is a public health challenge. Identifying risk groups is essential for establishing prevention, screening, containment, and treatment strategies. In Brazil, prisons overcrowding and unhygienic conditions have been a historical problem that enables infectious diseases. This study sought to reflect upon incarcerated population vulnerability and present strategies to face the pandemic. Methods: This is a theoretical-reflective study based on the review of scientific publications and Covid-19 coping guidelines. Results: Prison populations are highly vulnerable to SarsCov-2 infections. Such vulnerability is aggravated by prisons' structural conditions, which accelerates diseases spread, especially respiratory illnesses, and hinders the adoption of preventive measures. Healthcare strategies aimed at this population are still scarce. Conclusion: Covid-19 outbreaks in prisons affect prisoners, staff, and family members, possibly leading the health system to an unprecedented collapse. Considering that, strategies to reduce coronavirus impact in prisons and on public health are urgent. Preventive measures of virus spread among this population must be supported by priority health measures, contingency protocols, and coordinated actions between the health and justice sectors.

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