Mumbai: Maharashtra prisons, which faced the brunt of COVID-19 last year, has stated that 198 prisoners across 47 prisons in the state have tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday. 86 prison staff too have tested positive and are either undergoing treatment or are in quarantine.
The maximum number of cases were reported from Yerwada prison in Pune where 31 inmates and 11 prison staff were tested positive for the virus followed by Kohlapur with 29 inmates, Thane Central Prison with 26 inmates and Arthur Road prison in Mumbai with 18 inmates who tested positive. 15 inmates at Nashik Central Central Jail, 10 inmates at Nagpur Central Jail were the other prisons where the COVID-19 patients had touched the double-figure.
"Patients who test positive are kept in a quarantine centre created within the jail premises. Treatment is given to them under the guidance of doctors, and medicines are administered to the patients looking at the symptoms they have,” said a prison officer, requesting anonymity.
"Any new inmate coming to the prison jail is admitted only if he has a negative RT-PCR report. Also, the new inmate is kept in quarantine for a period of 14 days in a separate barrack which has been earmarked for new inmates. The inmate is tested again after 14 days before sending him to a normal barrack. If the new inmate is found positive, we do not allow him inside the prison, and ask local police officials to take care of the inmate,” added the officer.
The first COVID-19 case in jails in Maharashtra was detected when a 45-year-old Arthur road jail inmate who had suffered a paralytic attack on May 2 was taken to JJ Hospital and had tested positive for the virus on May 5, 2020. Following this instance, 182 inmates and 46 jail officials at Arthur Road prison in Mumbai had tested positive for the virus.
The situation within the prisons had looked grim in August last year when the number of inmates who had contracted the virus crossed 1000. But since then the situation has been under control. Maharashtra prison in the last year carried out 57,524 COVID-19 tests, where 3,116 inmates and 717 prison staff tested positive. Seven inmates and 8 prison staff have died of COVID-19 in the last year.
Prison authorities have also started vaccinating the inmates and the staff. Shahu Darade, Public Relation Officer, Maharashtra Prison Department said, "Till date, we have vaccinated 1,326 inmates including 912 undertrials and 414 convicts across Maharashtra. 3,112 of the 3,816 jail staff have already been vaccinated."