First case of Covid-19 in Tihar Jail as assistant superintendent tests positive
The prison’s director-general Sandeep Goel said, “His test results arrived Saturday. He was asymptomatic but the test results showed he had the virus.”Updated: May 25, 2020 00:53 IST
The first case of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Tihar prison complex was reported on Saturday. An assistant superintendent of Jail Number 7 tested positive for the virus on Saturday, prison officials said.
The official had got himself tested on Friday. The prison’s director-general Sandeep Goel said, “His test results arrived Saturday. He was asymptomatic but the test results showed he had the virus.”
The official lives in the staff residential complex near the prison. “Contact tracing at his workplace (Jail No.7) and residence is complete. It has revealed one member of the jail staff as a close contact and five others as casual contacts. The five casual contacts include two prison officials and three jail inmates,” Goel said.
At least nine residents (all prison officials) of the residential complex where the officer lives have also been told to quarantine themselves at home.
Jail officials said that after the contact tracing process was over, the close contact was tested for Covid-19. His result is awaited. He is quarantined at home. The two casual contacts (members of the jail staff) are also quarantined at home. Meanwhile, the three inmates (casual contacts) have been kept in the isolation barrack.
The prison department has turned single cells inside the prison into isolation wards.
According to jail authorities, new prisoners are lodged in a separate sub-jail (number 2) for 14 days. They are shifted to other parts of the jail and allowed to lodge with other prisoners after completing the 14-day quarantine period.
Goel said that all the contacts are presently asymptomatic and their medical condition will be monitored.
This is the first case inside the Tihar prison complex, which is also the most crowded prison in the country. Until the nationwide lockdown, implemented on March 25, Tihar had around 13,000 prisoners. Currently, there are around 9,500 prisoners. As part of the measures to decongest the prison, the government released around 3,000 prisoners on interim bail and parole. The prison department has also cancelled the biweekly visit of inmates’ families to contain the spread of the virus. With the lower courts closed, the prisoners’ hearings are held via video conferencing from prison.
Rohini jail, which has around 1,200 prisoners, has reported 18 Covid-19 cases, while Mandoli jail, where around 3,000 prisoners are lodged, has one case so far.
In all the 20 Covid-19 cases found in the three jails, all the patients remain asymptomatic, according to jail authorities. All jail superintendents are on high alert after learning how the virus spread rapidly inside Mumbai Arthur Road jail, leading to at least 180 officials testing positive within a week, even though the jail houses less than 4,000 prisoners.