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Gaza govt moves to prevent meningitis outbreak

Feb. 9, 2013 10:10 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 9:48 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip is transferring prisoners to hospital for exams due to growing fears of a meningitis outbreak, Ma'an has learned.

A man jailed by the Hamas government died of meningitis on Friday morning, the interior ministry said, and now detainees are being admitted to al-Shifa Hospital for exams before being transferred to other prisons.

Officials familiar with the decision told Ma'an that the decision to move the detainees for tests was precautionary in light of the death, and not because more cases were confirmed.

The government in Gaza denied taking any prisoners for tests.

On Friday Mahrous Fathi Nassar, 37, died of meningitis in hospital, a spokesman said.

Rights groups have expressed alarm at the number of deaths inside Palestinian prisons.

The death of 52-year-old Atef Khamis Derbas in December, who was being held at Ansar prison in Gaza City for unpaid debts, prompted an official investigation.

Derbas' family strongly believe Atef died due to medical negligence and poor conditions in jail, according to rights group al-Haq.

On Oct. 16, 27-year-old Mohammad Said Al-Zaqzouq man died in police custody in Khan Younis, south Gaza.

Police said he had committed suicide, and a police source told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that officers gave him the blanket with which he later strangled himself.
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