A total of 77 inmates and 26 staffers at the Mumbai Central Jail, popularly known as the Arthur Road jail, have tested positive for COVID-19, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Thursday, a day after it emerged that one prisoner and two guards were infected.
Inmates who have tested positive will be shifted to St George and GT Hospital on Friday morning. They were segregated within the jail premises on Thursday evening. The infected prison staffers will also be shifted to a quarantine facility, a prison official said.
Officials claimed that most of the 77 inmates were lodged in the same barrack as the first inmate who had tested positive on Tuesday. Following this, swabs of 144 people were sent for tests over the last two days. The barrack has 500 inmates in all.
Asked if tests are being conducted on the remaining prisoners in the barrack, a senior jail official said that so far, 270 people have been conducted, including prison staff, but “precautions are being taken”. There is also concern that the 26 prison staffers who have tested positive may have interacted with many more, including inmates from other barracks and jail officials.
An official said that 93 staffers have been on rotational duty in the jail since the lockdown, including jailors and prison guards.
Arthur Road jail is one of the most overcrowded jails in the country. It currently houses 2,800 inmates against its capacity of only 800. “Following social distancing norms is not practically possible in jails like this… So, we are taking steps to ensure that each inmate and staffer remain safe by segregating whoever needs to be isolated,” an official said.
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