First Covid-19 death in Delhi jail prompts panel to order rapid test on all new entrants
The committee directed the officials to test the 28 inmates immediately to prevent the spread of the disease in the prison complex.Updated: Jun 22, 2020 03:14 IST
A 62-year-old convict n Mandoli jail died of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on June 15, the first Covid death in city’s prisons, prompting the high powered committee constituted to decongest the jails in Delhi to issue a slew of measures, including conducting “rapid tests” on the new inmates and installation of oxygen concentrators at the jail hospital, officials said on Sunday.
Director general (prisons) Sandeep Goel informed the committee about the death of the inmate on Saturday. The committee headed by Justice Hima Kohli was told that 62-year-old Kanwar Singh passed away in his sleep. His Covid test came out positive on Saturday.
Kanwar Singh was serving life imprisonment in a 2016 murder case registered at the Aman Vihar police station and was sent to jail on July 6, 2018. Goel said he was sharing the jail cell with 28 other inmates “who were doing fine”. The committee directed the officials to test the 28 inmates immediately to prevent the spread of the disease in the prison complex.
The DG (prisons) also informed the committee that till Saturday, 36 jail staffers and 20 prisoners in Mandoli, Tihar and Rohini, the three prisons in Delhi, have been found Covid positive.
The DG said that all Covid positive jail staff were relieved of their duties and asked to remain in home quarantine, as all of them were asymptomatic. He said all those who had come in their contact were also tested.
Goel said of the 36 jail staff who were found positive (till June 20), seven have already recovered and tested negative. Only two of those jail staff required hospitalisation, two are in institutional quarantine facility whereas the remaining 25 are in home quarantined, Goel said. He also said that till Saturday, 20 inmates had tested positive out of which 16 have recovered and one has died.
Following this, the committee resolved that new prisoners between 18 and 21 years of age be kept in isolation wards and asked the DG (prisons) and special secretary (home) of the Delhi government to turn the 360 vacant police quarters, situated close to Mandoli jail, into a temporary jail to create isolation ward for new prisoners and those who test positive.
The committee also said that all jail hospitals must be equipped with oxygen concentrators and two such machines for each of the two jail hospitals must be procured at the earliest.
The committee also sought to know about the availability of some other space which can be converted into a ‘temporary jail’. DG (prisons) Goel stated that in consultation with Delhi Police, they have identified police quarters in Mandoli are being used as government’s medical quarantine facility for Covid patients.
He said that they have spoken to the Delhi government for making the quarters available for making a temporary jail. He informed that the quarters comprises of 12 towers with 30 flats each. He said the flats can be used for holding 1800 new inmates.
The committee directed the DG (prisons) as well as special secretary (home) to make concerted efforts for getting the nod from the Delhi government at the earliest. It also added two new category of prisoners—undertrial prisoners facing jail in 498A (domestic violence) and 304B (dowry death) --who can be now released on interim bail.
The committee was told that till date 4,129 inmates/ convicts/undertrial prisoners have been released on parole/interim bail. Despite that, the prison population continue to be 13,677 as on June 19.