A total of 103 inmates and staff of Arthur Road jail in Mumbai have tested positive for coronavirus, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said on Thursday. These include 26 staff members.
Officials said those who tested positive will be shifted to St George and GT Hospital on Friday morning, and have already been segregated within the jail. Earlier, an undertrial and two staffers had tested positive, following which swabs of 150 others were taken in the last two days.
Better known as Arthur Road jail, the Mumbai Central jail is one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country. It currently has 2,600 inmates, against a capacity of only 800.
Officials said steps are being taken to isolate those who have come in contact with these inmates and staffers. However, with social-distancing impossible due to overcrowding, concerns have risen about the jail emerging as an infection hotspot.
Deshmukh had announced in March that 11,000 prisoners will be released from jails across the state to reduce congestion. However, recommendations of a high-power committee appointed as per directions
of the Supreme Court to decongest prisons are yet to be accepted and implemented. From March, only 582 undertrials have been released from Arthur Road jail.
The jail has been under complete lockdown since April 9, not allowing new admissions or letting staff from outside enter the premises, given its proximity to Kasturba Hospital, the city’s main facility for Covid-19 treatment.
The jail had stopped visits from lawyers and family members from March 18. Authorities are attempting to find out how the coronavirus outbreak took place, since the only outsiders allowed in the jail are civic officials for sanitation, cleaning and other health measures.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines