Delhi prison sees 2nd COVID death as anti-Sikh riots convict dies

New Delhi: Ex-Congress MLA Mahender Yadav died of the novel Coronavirus on Saturday in Mandoli jail, where he was serving a 10-year sentence in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, making him the second COVID-19 fatality in Delhi prisons, where a total of 141 people, including staff and inmates have now tested positive for the contagious disease. 70-year-old Yadav was lodged in Jail number 14 of Mandoli Prison and had been hospitalised on June 26.

Significantly, the first COVID-19 death in Delhi prisons also came from Mandoli jail and in fact, the convict who succumbed to the virus, Kanwar Singh, was also lodged in Jail number 14.

According to jail officials, all the 29 inmates (mostly senior citizens), sharing the barrack with Kanwar Singh were tested for the virus. 17 of these 29 were found positive on June 20, while 12 were found negative. "Those tested negative were given a repeat test after 5 days (on June 25). Its result was received on June 26 evening, in which three people were found positive including Mahender Yadav," an official said.

He further said Yadav had developed uneasiness and some heart-related symptoms on June 26 and was referred to the DDU hospital. He was further referred from DDU hospital to the LNJP Hospital on the same day, where he was admitted.

Later, on Yadav's family's request, he was allowed to be shifted (under police guard) to a private hospital named Akash Healthcare Hospital in Dwarka where he was admitted on June 30. "Information was received that Mahender Yadav expired in Akash hospital on July 4 evening," the official said, adding that inquest proceedings will be conducted by the Metropolitan Magistrate.

Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said, "Senior citizens are mostly kept in separate barracks called senior citizen barracks. Jail staff and jail doctors take special care of them as per their needs. In the times of COVID-19, a close watch is kept on their health."

As per data accessed by Millennium Post, presently there are 13,600 inmates lodged in prisons. "Approx 100 inmates are above 65 years of age. Out of 53 inmates who were tested positive, around 10-12 senior citizens were affected by the virus," data shows. A total of 480 tests - 237 RT-PCR and 243 rapid antigen - have been done in the prisons so far. "Almost all tests on inmates are RT-PCR whereas 240 rapid antigen and 80 RT- PCR tests were conducted on jail staff," an official said.

Delhi has three prisons —Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini. According to data shared by jail officials, 53 inmates of the three prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, out of whom, 31 have recovered and two have died. Of the 88 Delhi prison staffers who have tested positive for coronavirus so far, 28 have recovered.

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