Bhubaneswar, Sep 3 (PTI) The Odisha government has made coronavirus test mandatory for any person to be produced before a magistrate for remand as over 500 inmates and 30 officials of different jails in the state have been detected as COVID-19 positive.
In a modification of the COVID management in the state prisons, the Home department has issued an 8-point Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be implemented by different arresting agencies like police, excise, forest and vigilance departments.
'We have already circulated the SOP to authorities of different jails across the state,' Director General (Prison) S K Upadhayay said.
Since the RT-PCR test is time consuming, the Home department's SOP suggested Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) which indicates COVID status of a person within an hour, the official said.
'Any person to be produced before a magistrate for remand by the Police/ Excise/Forest/Vigilance authorities shall first be screened or tested by medical officers for COVID-19 along with the mandatory medical examination in a designated hospital,' it said.
The medical officer of the designated hospital will conduct thorough exanimation of those persons proposed to be remanded to jails and shall record that the person is asymptomatic or symptomatic to the novel coronavirus.
Anybody found positive in the process, should be sent to the Dedicated COVID Care Centre/ Dedicated Covid Health Centre/ Dedicated COVID Hospital by the concerned remanding agencies, the SOP mentioned, adding that as the case may be for treatment with the permission of remanding courts.
The accused persons may be shifted to the jails after being recovered in 'Dedicated Covid Care Centre/ Dedicated Covid Health Centre / Dedicated Covid Hospital', the SOP said.
Only those asymptomatic accused persons (to be declared by the medical officer of the designated hospital), shall be remanded to jails after being tested with Rapid Antigen Test and found negative, it said.
All newly remanded persons having COVID-19 negative reports will be kept in prisons in isolation wards or quarantine wards in concerned district jails or sub jails within same revenue district (in case of overcrowding of any particular jail), it said.
The Chief District Medical Officers (CDMOs) of concerned districts will depute medical staff for random tests of prisoners at designated places (to be decided by district administration) for which SPs or DCPs shall provide police escort.
In case any prisoner is detected as COVID positive, the same prisoner shall be shifted to Dedicated COVID Care Centre/ Dedicated Covid Health Centre/ Dedicated Covid Hospital forthwith for which local police shall provide police escort.
To avoid infection due to physical production, technology-based virtual production from jails may be considered with concerned courts.
If a COVID positive patient is required to be admitted in the COVID facility, one escort shall be allowed to remain in the COVID facility for safe custody of the prisoner as is done for non COVID prisoners.
'Such escort may be allowed to use PPE. After the discharge of the prisoner, the escort shall be quarantined for 14 days, either in home isolation (if a separate room with attached toilet and a caregiver is available) or may be kept in a COVID Care Centre. Covid-19 Test shall be done on the 14th day of isolation or quarantine,' the SOP said.
Official sources said that the state prison authorities have so far released as many as 16,789 inmates on bail in order to decongest jails. Still, there are 16,931 inmates in 90 odd jails. PTI AAM RG RG