The Superintendent of Mumbai Central Prison, or Arthur Road Jail, has written to BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to start a COVID-19 vaccination drive for its inmates. The letter written by the jailor states that the prison has 2,500 inmates in the age group of 18 to 44 years, who are yet to receive their first dose.
The Free Press Journal has a copy of the letter written by NB Vayachal, superintendent of Arthur Road Jail, on June 15 to Dr Sheela Jagtap, vaccination department, Public Health Department, BMC and Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner of BMC and incharge of Public Health Department.
Vayachal, in his letter, stated that Arthur Road Jail has a capacity of 804 inmates. However, it currently has 2,900 inmates, which is almost three times its capacity. "In March 2021, COVID-19 tests were conducted on 194 inmates and around 11 inmates had tested positive. The inmates having symptoms related to COVID-19 or those who tested positive were shifted to E Patanwala Urdu School in Byculla, which was made as a temporary COVID-19 centre for inmates,” states the letter. “The threat of COVID-19 is increasing inside the jail. It will be difficult for authorities to get medicine and vaccines in case of an emergency. On June 1, after an independent vaccination centre was started inside the jail, around 169 prisoners above 45 years were vaccinated," states the letter.
It further explains that, since May 1, 2021, the central government has started vaccinating people above 18 years of age. "Arthur Road Jail, at present, has 2,500 inmates in the age group of 18 to 44 years. To stop the spread of COVID-19 amongst inmates, inmates need to be vaccinated at the earliest. Also, admission of new inmates has started. In such a situation, only vaccinating inmates can provide safety," added the letter.
The high power committee, in its minutes, has stated that prisoners as well as the prison staff should be vaccinated at the earliest by conducting vaccination drives. Similarly, the high court had asked jails across Maharashtra to submit a report about the vaccination drive.
Prison sources claimed that vaccination of more than 50 per cent inmates is complete at Adharwadi Jail in Kalyan and in Yavatmal Prison. "Similarly, we too have to complete the vaccination drive at the earliest and have to submit the report to the court," said an official from Maharashtra prison.
Kakani, who made efforts to start the independent centre at Arthur Road Jail said, "We are in process. We will start the vaccination drive by next week. We have decided to make sectors or age-wise groups in the jail and carry out the vaccination drive periodically. Also, the groups and sectors will help see a limited crowd at the vaccination centre."
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