185 Inmates Test Positive In Jammu Jails: DG Prisons

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KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

Jammu: A total of 185 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 in different jails across the Jammu region, Director General of Prisons V K Singh said on Saturday.

He said temporary jails are being set up in various districts to isolate the asymptomatic positive detenues as part of efforts to ensure safety of the jail inmates and staffers.

Singh said roughly 200 prisoners, primarily in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district jail and Srinagar Central Jail, have recovered from the infection over the past one month.

“In the past week, 185 prisoners across the Jammu region, including 56 in district Jail Amphalla and four in Kot Bhalwal Jail (Jammu district), 51 in district jail Kathua, 50 in district jail Rajouri and 24 in district jail Bhaderwah have tested positive for COVID-19. All necessary measures have been taken for their treatment,” Singh told PTI here.

He said the surge in COVID-19 cases prompted a review of the situation and a need was felt to set up temporary jails near the jail complexes to isolate the asymptomatic positive prisoners for their better care.

“A notification has been issued to transform Pahari hostel at Bantalab (Jammu) as a temporary jail and it will be operationalised on Monday to cater the positive but asymptomatic cases which were detected in Amphalla and Kot Bhalwal jails. The guards have already taken up the positions there,” the DG prisons, who visited the facility on Saturday morning to take stock of the arrangements, said.

He said similar facilities are being set up in Rajouri and Kathua districts where more than 50 COVID-19 cases each have come to the fore.

“This is a work in progress. Our concern is the safety of the prisoners and the staff, and are following the guidelines and SOPs issued by the government from time to time religiously,” Singh said.

He said a prisoner with co-morbidities lodged in Amphalla jail was shifted to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital early this week after he tested positive for coronavirus.

“Our first priority is to ensure better medical care to those suffering from the virus and the upcoming facilities are the secondary response to ensure better care and overall safety of the prisoners,” he said.

The DG prisons said things have to be kept ready as Kot Bhalwal and Amphalla jails have good numbers of jail inmates.

“In other districts, we have to identify facilities adjoining the jail premises. The warden staff of the jails is being deployed for the security of the temporary jail,” he said, adding that a similar facility was provided in Srinagar and Anantnag district which together had reported 191 COVID-19 cases about a month back and successfully treated.

He said all the new admissions in the jails are accepted only after their negative COVID test and then they are also quarantined for 14 days before being lodged in the barracks.

“Anyone found with fever is subjected to testing and accordingly in case his test report is positive, all his contacts, including jail staff is being screened and tested,” the DG prisons said adding that no visitor is allowed inside the prison to meet the inmates since the outbreak of the pandemic while the court hearing for trial and remand is being done via online mode.

The inmates are being provided with masks, hand sanitizers and their barracks are also being fumigated regularly, the DG prisons said.

Amphalla District Jail Superintendent Mirza Saleem Ahmad Beig said all the prisoners lodged in the jail have been tested for COVID-19 and further precautionary measures have been taken to meet the challenge.

“The testing in the prison was completed and we have 14 more positive cases on Saturday, taking the total number of positive prisoners to 80, including four female prisoners,” he said.

“It was on the initiative of the DG prisons, we undertook the exercise of testing and to our surprise, 56 of the inmates and three jail staff deployed outside the barracks were found positive for COVID-19 by Friday,” he said.

All of them are asymptomatic barring one who was suffering from other ailments and was subsequently shifted to a hospital, Beig added.

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