The Head of Iran's Prisons Organization on Wednesday ordered prison wardens to take special measures to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from spreading to prisons.
Addressing prison wardens across the country Ali-Asghar Jahangir said prisoners should not be sent to courts unnecessarily and without due coordination. He also said all visits to prisons except for judicial and health officials should stop, prisoners should not be transferred between prisons and family visits to take place behind glass barriers.
On Tuesday Kianush Jahanpur, the Head of Public Relations of the Ministry of Health, said there had been no "particular reports of confirmed cases" in prisons but some social media users have claimed that there is an outbreak in Karaj Central and Evin prisons.
According to the Center for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR), Saeed Soltanpour, one of the eight Gonabadi Dervishes who is serving a sentence at Karaj Central Prison, has said that one of the prison staff has contracted the virus. In the audio file received by CSHR Soltanpour says several wards have been converted into quarantines and an elderly man has been put into isolation.
On February 23 the families of 14 political figures who have been imprisoned for demanding Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's resignation, in a letter to Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi said the Judiciary will be responsible if coronavirus infection spreads among inmates and a "massive human tragedy" occurs in prisons.
The families of political prisoners called on Raeesi to allow "ordinary and political prisoners" to go on furlough because they are not likely to escape and will return to prisons later. They also asked the Chief Justice to order all prisons across the country to be protected by special measures.
On February 25 Mahmoud Sadeqi (Sadeghi), an outspoken reformist lawmaker who has himself tested positive, called on the Chief Justice to allow political prisoners to go home to protect them from contracting the virus.
Due to the closed nature of detention establishments and the low-level of hygiene even one case of coronavirus infection in a prison can quickly spread to other inmates and escalate to an epidemic.
In January 2019 Jahangir said there are more than 240,000 inmates in Iran's prisons.