No inmate is currently COVID-19 positive, only 2 staffers remain active: Delhi Prisons

New Delhi: The Delhi Prisons department on Friday claimed that there was no longer any inmate in Delhi infected with COVID-19 and that of the 63 inmates who had tested positive in three jails — Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli — two had died while the other had recovered.

"Sixty-one of them (inmates) have recovered and two died," the officials said adding that on Friday, there was no inmate who was COVID-19 positive in the three jail complexes of Delhi.

The official said that the first case of an inmate testing Coronavirus positive came on May 13 in Rohini Jail. Two COVID-19 positive inmates of Mandoli Jail had unfortunately died on June 15 and July 4. Both were senior citizens. A total of 169 prison staffers, 87 of Delhi jails and 82 of Tamil Nadu Special Police, also contracted the infection. Of them, 167 personnel have recovered and only two are still positive for the disease, the prisons department data shows.

Speaking about safety precautions for staff, the officials said that staff members were told that if they have influenza-like symptoms, they should inform senior officers and then go to the doctor for further treatment and take rest.

In June, the first COVID-19 death was reported from the prison after a 64-year-old inmate had tested positive after his death. In July, Ex-Congress MLA Mahender Yadav died of the novel Coronavirus 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.

Sandeep Goel, Director-General (Prisons) told Millennium Post that they have taken several steps to curb COVID-19 inside prisons. "In a bid to decongest the prisons, around 4,000 inmates were released through interim-bail and emergency parole. We also restricted entries inside prisons like jail mulaqat facility was suspended. We also conducted repeated medical screening of inmates. There were also isolation cells for those having ILI symptoms," he said. When asked how many prisoners are currently lodged in prisons, an official said that around 14,600 inmates occupy the jails here.

He further said they ensure that any new inmate has to go for 14 days' mandatory quarantine. The focus was also given on continuous awareness among staff and inmates. Earlier this month, the Delhi Home Department notified the declaration of the police quarters in the police housing complex adjoining the Mandoli Jail here as a temporary jail in light of the COVID-19 pandemic after jail authorities had requested the same with a view to further decongest prisons given the increasing number of cases among inmates and jail officials.

"Presently, about 70 inmates were moved. Once fully operational, we plan to house around 2,000 inmates there," an official had said earlier.

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