The Maharashtra Prison department has till now conducted Covid-19 tests on nearly 85 per cent of the total number of inmates across the state, and aims to cover the entire prison population in the coming days, officials have said.
Till now, 36 of the 47 prisons in Maharashtra have reported Covid-19 infections, with the the number of cases at 2,353 as on Monday morning, of which 2,236 have recovered till now. There are 117 active cases as on Monday, taking the recovery rate close to 95 per cent. Of the 36 prisons which have reported Covid-19 cases, only five prisons have more than 10 active cases now, as per the data released by the Prison department.
Six inmates and six prison staffers have succumbed to the infection till now.
The first lot of cases was reported in Mumbai Central Prison, better known as Arthur Road Prison, in the first week of May. Till now Chandrapur, Akola, Amaravati, Nagpur, Sangli, Kolhapur, Yerawada and Mumbai Central prisons have reported more than 100 cases among inmates. However, of these, only Yerawada (19 out of 299) and Amaravati (15 out of 135) have more than 10 active cases.
These cases are being reported from either the main premises of the prison or the temporary prisons that have been set up in each district of Maharashtra, where new inmates are being lodged. The temporary prison premises have separate Covid care centres where asymptomatic inmates are being lodged. Thoses with symptoms are being admitted to designated hospitals with security arrangements.
The Prison department has, till now, tested more than 23,100 inmates as against the present population of close to 27,000 inmates lodged in 47 prisons across the state, which include high-security and high-capacity central prisons, district prisons and open jails for men and women.
Additional Director General of Police (Prison and Correctional Services) of Maharashtra, Sunil Ramanand, said, “Till now, we have tested more than 23,000 inmates and plan to cover the entire population of inmates. Our strategy has been to test as much as possible and isolate suspected and confirmed cases. Inmates across each of the prisons have been tested. We now have a very small number of inmates who are active cases and in most prisons, most of those who had contracted Covid-19 have recovered. But we will be alert and continue to take extensive measures.”
As on October 25, exactly 23,184 inmates have been tested. The number of inmates tested was 14,974 and 7,798 as on September 25 and August 25, showing that nearly 67 per of the total tests till now have been conducted over the last two months. Among the prison staff too, 3,057 tests have been conducted till now, in which 526 have tested positive, of whom only 25 are active cases as on Monday.
In May, The Maharashtra Home department had empowered the district collectors to take provisional possession of government or privately-owned buildings and designate them as temporary prisons, which can be used for isolating sections of prisoners to avert spread of infection during the pandemic. Till now, 37 temporary prisons have been designated across the state, most of which are located on the campuses of schools, colleges or hostels, which have multiple separate buildings. These temporary prisons currently house over 2,500 men and women.
Meanwhile, the state government recently wrote to the Prison department to submit a proposal for the purchase of medical equipment to be made available at the Covid care centres for inmates on the premises of temporary prisons.
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