17 test positive in Tihar in a day, officials scamper to create isolation spaces

Prison officers said the infection has spread rather quickly inside the jail premises in the last 10 days, even as the administration scambles to create more space for isolation and quarantine.
By Prawesh Lama, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 15, 2021 04:36 AM IST
Last year, after the pandemic broke out, nearly 6,000 prisoners were released on special parole to ensure social distancing inside the jail.(HT Archive)

Two jail doctors and 15 more prisoners have tested positive in the last 24 hours till Wednesday evening, taking the total number of people infected with the virus to 76 in Tihar, during the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Delhi.

Prison officers said the infection has spread rather quickly inside the jail premises in the last 10 days, even as the administration scambles to create more space for isolation and quarantine. Currently, there are 67 active cases among prisoners and nine among jail staff, including two doctors who were vaccinated earlier this year.

An analysis of the cases shows that, till March 16, a total of 120 prisoners had tested positive for the disease.

But between March 18 and April 14, this year, as a fourth wave of infections raged, the prison witnessed more than 75 fresh cases, of which three later recovered.

On Wednesday, the city reported an alarming 17,282 new positive Covid-19 cases in all.

Prison officers attributed the increase in number of cases to a rapid rise in the inmate population in Tihar, which Asia’s largest prison.

While the sanctioned capacity of Tihar prison is 10,026, it currently has over 20,000 inmates.

The prison’s director general, Sandeep Goel, said that the administration was taking all possible measures to conduct medical test of the inmates, and was creating spaces within the prison for social distancing. The officer said that in-person meeting of families with the inmates, which happened twice a week inside the jails, have been suspended for the time being and court hearings of prisoners are happening virtually.

Last year, after the pandemic broke out, nearly 6,000 prisoners were released on special parole to ensure social distancing inside the jail.

However, between February 6 and March 18, almost all of them surrendered, leaving little space for isolation of new inmates and undertrials.

Until February, the prison population was below 13,000. It has now crossed 20,000, making it difficult for officials to ensure social distancing inside jails, one officer said, asking not to be named.

Experts, such as former law officer of Tihar Sunil Gupta and advocate Ajay Verma last week suggested that the administration should release all prisoners with “good conduct”, and those who surrendered well on time after being granted the special parole during the start of the pandemic last year.

Two jail doctors and 15 more prisoners have tested positive in the last 24 hours till Wednesday evening, taking the total number of people infected with the virus to 76 in Tihar, during the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Delhi.

Prison officers said the infection has spread rather quickly inside the jail premises in the last 10 days, even as the administration scambles to create more space for isolation and quarantine. Currently, there are 67 active cases among prisoners and nine among jail staff, including two doctors who were vaccinated earlier this year.

An analysis of the cases shows that, till March 16, a total of 120 prisoners had tested positive for the disease.

But between March 18 and April 14, this year, as a fourth wave of infections raged, the prison witnessed more than 75 fresh cases, of which three later recovered.

On Wednesday, the city reported an alarming 17,282 new positive Covid-19 cases in all.

Prison officers attributed the increase in number of cases to a rapid rise in the inmate population in Tihar, which Asia’s largest prison.

While the sanctioned capacity of Tihar prison is 10,026, it currently has over 20,000 inmates.

The prison’s director general, Sandeep Goel, said that the administration was taking all possible measures to conduct medical test of the inmates, and was creating spaces within the prison for social distancing. The officer said that in-person meeting of families with the inmates, which happened twice a week inside the jails, have been suspended for the time being and court hearings of prisoners are happening virtually.

Last year, after the pandemic broke out, nearly 6,000 prisoners were released on special parole to ensure social distancing inside the jail.

However, between February 6 and March 18, almost all of them surrendered, leaving little space for isolation of new inmates and undertrials.

Until February, the prison population was below 13,000. It has now crossed 20,000, making it difficult for officials to ensure social distancing inside jails, one officer said, asking not to be named.

Experts, such as former law officer of Tihar Sunil Gupta and advocate Ajay Verma last week suggested that the administration should release all prisoners with “good conduct”, and those who surrendered well on time after being granted the special parole during the start of the pandemic last year.

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