Three inmates at Tihar Jail have been quarantined after one of them, a rape accused, was found to have been in contact with a Covid-19 positive person. Jail officials said they received information on Saturday that the victim in the rape case tested positive for the virus. The accused was sent to the isolation ward, and so were two other inmates who shared the same cell with him. The men were tested on Sunday and their results came out negative for Covid-19 on Monday.
Sandeep Goel, DG (Delhi Prisons), said, “The three were fresh entries into the jail and were kept in Jail No 2. As a precautionary measure, we had already reduced movement and kept only two-three people in a cell. When we heard about the victim testing positive for Covid-19, we immediately sent the accused to the isolation ward. His two cellmates were also shifted to isolation wards. Although they showed no symptoms during thermal screening, we tested them as well. The three tested negative but will be kept in quarantine for 14 days for the safety of others.”
The incident took place in Central Delhi and the rape accused was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail on April 6. The victim was examined by doctors, and she also underwent a Covid-19 test.
Jail staff who came in contact with the three inmates have not been tested yet, said officials, adding that staff are taking precautions by wearing masks and gloves. “If the inmates had tested positive, we would have sent the staff for testing and quarantine as well,” said DG Goel.
Tihar is one of the most populous jails in South Asia, housing 17,000-18,000 on an average. Recently, Covid-19 outbreaks were reported from Arthur Road jail and Byculla Jail in Mumbai. In a bid to prevent a similar outbreak, Delhi Prisons’ officials have released a set of guidelines, including housing all new inmates at separate wards for two weeks – men in Jail No 2 and women in Jail No 6 and 16. A special task force has been formed for “contact tracing” of suspected Covid-19 cases in all prisons in Delhi.
Tihar Jail AIG Rajkumar shared the guidelines which state that lodging areas and residential complexes inside the jail are being disinfected regularly. Everyone inside the jail from inmates, doctors and staff are thermally screened on a regular basis to detect any early symptoms of the virus. Isolation wards have also been created in each jail for any suspected cases.
Tihar officials have also suspended mulakats and NGO visits, which will be effective till the end of lockdown, to prevent contact with outsiders. Frontline staff will be given PPE kits, with an in-house production team comprising staff and inmates involved in making masks, gloves and sanitisers.
Apart from this, inmate call facility has been extended to all free of cost, “psychological screening of newly admitted inmates is being done,” and counsellers are interacting with inmates regularly.
To decongest the prison, Tihar has released 1,056 convicts on emergency parole till date. Another 2,177 undertrials were released on interim bail while 301 got regular bail.
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