A total of 1,375 prisoners in various jails in Andhra Pradesh have contracted the coronavirus infection so far and only one of them has succumbed, Director General of Prisons Mohd Ahsan Reza said on Thursday. Five of the Covid-19 positive prisoners escaped from custody while undergoing treatment in hospitals and hunt was on to nab them, he said.
Of those infected, 380 had fully recovered, leaving 873 active cases in various jails across the state. "Another 116 inmates, who tested positive, were enlarged on bail," the DG said.
Inmates who tested positive for coronavirus were being treated in the respective jails only. "Majority of the cases are only asymptomatic and we have created required facilities for the treatment.
We are isolating the patients and ensuring proper medicare, even administering costly injections with the help of the local administration," the DG said. Among the staff in 41 prisons, including four Central Jails, in the state, 241 tested positive for Covid-19 and four died.
Of the 241, 95 were cured and 142 were active cases. "The casualties were more among our staff than the prisoners.The lone prisoner who died was also on dialysis,"Reza pointed out.
After the outbreak of coronavirus in March, the Department of Prisons released 430 prisoners on interim bail and over 2,100 on regular bail to avoid congestion in the cramped jails. It also banned the regular 'mulaakats' (meeting of inmates with their kin and lawyers) to prevent the infection.
"We released a lot of inmates on bail and the restrictions put in place helped prevent the spread of the pandemic in prisons. We also did not have fresh intake and that also helped," the DG said. However, with an increasing number of arrests made by the newly formed Special Enforcement Bureau mostly in liquor cases, the fresh intake had to be renewed.
"The influx of new inmates possibly led to the spread of infection. The Central Jails in Kadapa, Rajamahendravaram and Nellore saw a major caseload," the DG said. The Department of Prisons has been organizing weekly tests in all jails for the staff as well as inmates.
"We have so far completed at least 20 rounds of testing. Besides good food, we are now providing dry fruits and chicken diet to the inmates to keep them healthy and ensure the infection is contained," Ahsan Reza added.