Maharashtra prisons record 200 active cases
Amid the second Covid-19 wave, the number of active positive inmates across the state prisons went up to 200 on Wednesday, from as low as 42 on March 3, 2021.
“If the infection spreads across the state, then prisons cannot stay untouched from the contagious disease even if all the precautions are taken. However, we managed to ensure there is no increase in mortality rate among prisoners for many months,” said a prison officer.
The prison department, since the outbreak of Covid in jails in May 2020, has not been allowing any fresh inmate without the Covid tests.
Another prison officer, requesting anonymity said that all the precautionary measures which were enforced during the peak of the pandemic last year, have been put in place again. This also includes ensuring no ‘mulaqats’ (visits of prisoner’s relatives to jail to meet prisoners) at the prisons.
Across the 44 prisons in the state so far, the jail authority has managed to conduct 57,524 Covid tests. “Since April 2020, a total of 3,116 prisoners have tested positive for Covid and seven succumbed to the disease. Yerwada, Kolhapur and Thane prisons have maximum active Covid positive prisoners,” the jail officer said.
Since March 25, a total of 10,788 prisoners have been released to ensure no overcrowding in the prisons. But with relaxations in lockdown, new criminals are being caught by the police again and being sent to jail, hence the number of prisoners in jails are bound to increase. Some of the jail in states are highly overcrowded. The state prisons presently have 34,422 prisons against their capacity of around 26,000 prisoners.
The prison authority also taking efforts to prevent the spread of the virus among its jail staffs. So far 3,896 tests have been conducted on staffs following which 717 detected positive for Covid-19. Eight jail staffers have lost a battle to the virus, while 623 recovered. At present state, prisons have 83 active Covid positive staffs.
Additional director general (prisons) Sunil Ramanand did not respond to queries.