Covid-19 cases among prisoners in Maharashtra jails breaches 2,000 mark; no fatalities since six weeksUpdated: Sep 20, 2020, 19:48 IST
The number of prisoners tested positive for Covid-19 in Maharashtra jails breached the 2,000 mark on Saturday. However, jail officers say that the spread of the contagion is under control, as out of total 2,011 cases 1,616 prisoners have recovered. Officials said that since the authority is stressing more on aggressive testing, new cases are emerging.
Additional director general (prisons) Sunil Ramanand said that the jail administration has succeeded in containing Covid deaths in the state prisons as since the outbreak fatalities were restricted to (only) six deaths. Since past around six weeks no fatalities were reported in the prisons.
As per the latest report from the prison department 13 new cases were reported across various prisons on Saturday that took the total caseload of infected prisoners from 1998 to 2011.
The Yerwada Central prison in Pune recorded the maximum Covid cases among prisoners; 259, followed by Nagpur, Mumbai, Sangli and Chandrapur prisons with 219, 183, 173 and 171 cases, respectively.
Till date six prisoners have succumbed to the virus. These fatalities were reported in prisons in Taloja Navi Mumbai, Yerwada Pune, Amravati and Dhule.
The first case of Covid-19 was reported in Byculla jail on May 31 followed by Satara prison and then the major outbreak in Arthur Road central prison.
43 jails in the state had population of 36,000 prisoners during initial days of the lockdown. After the de-congestion measures were implemented, state prisons houses around 26,000 prisoners. So far, 14,252 Covid tests have been conducted. A maximum of 1366 test were done in Nagpur prison followed by Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail with 998 testing.
Around 416 staff working at the jails have also tested positive and of them 358 have recovered while four succumbed to the disease.
A prison official from Pune headquarters said that several effective steps were taken to contain the spread of Coronavirus in state prisons.
After first case of Covid in the state prison was reported, the measure implemented immediately was imposing strict lockdown at each prison. It meant that all the staff and officers posted at a prison would not be able to go out for a month. “Even the jail staff who lived in nearby quarters were not allowed to go home fearing he/she may bring the contagion in the prison. The staff was on rotation every month,” the officer said.
After this, restrictions were imposed for new prisoners. New prisoners would have to first compulsorily spend a 14-days quarantine and stay at a temporary prison. They would then be transferred to the main prison and that too only after undergoing a test. “The state prisons department as of today have 78 temporary prisons,” the officer added.
“In order to make the Covid prevention more effective by de-congestion of overcrowded prisons we have also released nearby 11,000 prisoners, as per the court’s directives. As of today, the state prisons have around 26,000 prisoners, another officer said.
In light of Covid cases increasing in prisons across the state more so in Kolhapur, the bench of justice SS Shinde of the Bombay high court on Friday while passing orders in an emergency Covid parole application filed by a convict directed the jail authorities to act in accordance with the guidelines of the high-power committee (HPC) as well as treat applications for temporary bail or parole on merit.
“Presently, we are stressing more on increasing the testing in prisons. Till date over 14,000 testing (RT-PCR) of prisoners have been done,” the officer added.
Other measures such as encouraging prisoners for Yoga and exercise and enhancing nutritional value of the food given to prisoners to boost their immunity, were also taken, the officer said.
Statistics till September 19, 2020
Tests done - 14,252
Covid positive - 2,011
Recovered - 1,616
Death - 06
Tests done - 2,507
Covid positive prisoners - 416
Recovered - 358
Death - 04