THE CORONAVIRUS infection in Maharashtra prisons crossed the 2,000-mark on Saturday. The state’s prisons have so far seen 10 deaths due to the virus, including six of inmates and four prison staffers.
On Saturday, the total number of cases recorded across 45 jails, the prison headquarters in Pune and the prison ward in state-run JJ Hospital stood at 2,011, of which 1,616 have recovered.
The highest number of cases among inmates has been recorded at Yerawada Central Prison in Pune at 259. The prison, which has an inmate capacity of 2,449, has nearly double the number of prisoners at 4,406. It has seen three deaths, including two of inmates and a staffer, so far.
In May, a surge was seen in cases at Mumbai Central Prison. Better known as the Arthur Road Jail, it has had 183 positive cases among inmates and 48 among the prison staff. All of them have recovered since, prison officials said. The jail, which primarily lodges undertrials, currently has 1,731 inmates, which is more than double its capacity of 804.
Last week, prison officials said they were increasing random testing in jails for early isolation and identification. In Mumbai, Arthur Road, Thane, Byculla and Kalyan jails are not accepting new male inmates, while Taloja Central Jail is only accepting new inmates after they have tested negative for Covid-19. After the tests, inmates are sent for quarantine at a school that has been converted as a temporary jail, before such inmates are finally shifted to the main prison, officials said.
With court hearings, lawyer and family visits still restricted, inmates visiting hospitals for follow-up check-ups or medical treatment are at risk of infecting the virus, officials added.
So far, five prisons, including Nagpur, Aurangabad, Osmanabad, Arthur Road, and Byculla Women’s jail have seen a full recovery of those infected. Of the 47 jails, currently 34 have active cases.
In May, the state government had announced the release of nearly half of the prison population on temporary bail or emergency parole. While over 10,000 prisoners have been released across the state, they still have over 3,000 inmates beyond capacity with 19 prisons overcrowded.
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