AN UNDERTRIAL and two prison guards have tested positive for COVID-19 at Mumbai Central Prison, triggering fears of a possible infection hotspot. As many as 150 others, including over 15 staffers and senior prison officials who came in close proximity with the three, have undergone tests, with results expected on Thursday, Inspector General (Prisons) Deepak Pandey said.
This is the first time that coronavirus cases have been detected in a prison in Maharashtra. The jail, better known as Arthur Road jail, has nearly 2,600 inmates against a capacity of only 800.
In March, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had announced that 11,000 prisoners will be released from jails across the state to reduce overcrowding.
However, the recommendations of a high-powered committee, appointed as per directions of the Supreme Court to decongest prisons, are yet to be accepted and implemented.
The jail has been under complete lockdown since April 9, not allowing new admissions or letting staff enter the premises from outside, given its close proximity to Kasturba Hospital, the city’s main facility for the infection’s treatment.