New Delhi: Five inmates, who recently arrived in jails in Delhi, have tested positive for COVID-19 and are undergoing treatment, officials said on Sunday. This comes less than a month after the Delhi Prisons Department declared there was no active COVID-19 case among the inmates in its three jail complexes.
According to the data shared by the officials, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Delhi Prisons now stands at 25, including 20 jail staff. “A total of 70 prison inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Sixty-three of them have recovered and two died, leaving five active cases. There were 188 prison staff exposed to the novel coronavirus. Of them, 168 have recovered and 20 are still under treatment for the disease,” Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said.
Earlier, on August 21, the Delhi Prisons Department had stated that none of the inmates in the three jail complexes of Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli are COVID-19 positive and that the coronavirus situation in jails here has improved. Among prisons in the national capital, the first case of the coronavirus was reported in Rohini Jail on May 13. Two coronavirus positive inmates of Mandoli Jail died on June 15 and July 4. Both were senior citizens, according to the officials.
They had said ever since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, the Prisons Department remained vigilant and instructed its staff to not only maintain hygiene and social distancing among themselves but also spread awareness about the infection among inmates in the three jail complexes. The inmates are being given lime water to boost their immunity, they said.
The officials said a major step taken towards maintaining social distancing among inmates was to decongest the jails. Around 4,000 inmates were released in the department’s decongestion drive. Out of them, 1,100 convicts were released on emergency parole while 2,900 undertrial prisoners were released on interim bail. At present, there are 14,600 inmates in Delhi prisons, the officials had said.
Goel had emphasised that its decongestion drive and spreading awareness among the inmates as well as staffers played a huge role in tackling the pandemic. He said restricted entry, repeated medical screening of inmates, isolation of those with symptoms, compulsory 14-day quarantine for new inmates were some of the key measures which were implemented since early March to check the spread of the deadly virus.
“We took timely precautionary measures. Every new inmate was isolated. After medical screening, we quarantined them initially for three-four days but soon we extended the quarantine period to 14 days which was compulsory for any new inmate,” Goel had said. “We increased our medical screenings. Any new inmate being brought here first underwent a medical screening before entering jail premises. It is conducted by a team of jail doctors. Only after he is declared fit, he is taken to his jail where he is medically examined for the second time to ensure he is fit and fine. This process of double medical screening helped us to ensure the safety and well-being of both inmates and our staff,” he added.
If during the first medical screening the inmate is found to be unwell, he is immediately sent to a hospital. Apart from measuring the body temperature of prisoners, the jail doctors also ask them about their whereabouts. In case they have come from a containment zone, they are put under a 14-day quarantine, they said. Besides, the jail staffers were also advised to not report to duty and remain at home in case they were unwell, he said.
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