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US senators concerned over potential COVID-19 outbreak at Guantanamo Bay
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US senators concerned over potential COVID-19 outbreak at Guantanamo Bay

A group of US senators wrote to the US Secretary of Defense Wednesday expressing concern about the potential for a “significant outbreak” of COVID-19 at the Pentagon prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The letter seeks to determine how the military is safeguarding the 40 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and the American forces responsible for them.

The letter states:

However, it remains unclear whether the Department’s coronavirus infection control efforts will be enough to protect the health of the 40 detainees at the Guantanamo prison facility, some of who are “aging detainees [who] could require specialized treatment for issues such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or even cancer.” Moreover, according to a report by the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) and Physicians for Human rights, there are serious concerns “about Guantanamo’s ability to provide medical care to the remaining detainees as time passes and with seemingly no prospective of their release,” noting that the facility “did not have the specialists and equipment necessary” to care for them. This aging and chronically ill population, some of who retain the mental and physical wounds of torture, may be at greater risk of serious medical complications from COVID-19.

The letter set a deadline of June 10 for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to provide details in regards to the methods Department of Justice seeks to employ to prevent the spread of coronavirus throughout Guantanamo Bay.

For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.