Delhi Prisons steps up efforts to tackle COVID-19 as inmates return

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New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI) The threat of coronavirus infection looms large in Delhi Prisons as it readies for the returning inmates who were granted parole last year amid the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

According to jail officials, it will be difficult to maintain social distancing with the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the prisons.

They said the situation could be more difficult to manage when the inmates, who were granted parole during the pandemic outbreak last year, would return.

There are a total of 18,900 inmates in the Delhi Prisons comprising Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli jails. However, the intake capacity of Delhi Prisons Department is 10,026 inmates.

The number of inmates will pass the 20,000-mark as more will come after their emergency parole lapse, a senior jail official said.

Meanwhile, the jail authority asserted that all steps are being taken to keep the COVID-19 situation under control.

“The last time an inmate was tested positive for coronavirus was on January 14. After that, three more persons were found positive, but their condition was detected before they entered the jail.

“No jail staff has been found COVID-19 positive after January 9. Thus, the COVID situation inside the jails is very much under control. We will continue to take all the precautions, including wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and quarantining the new inmates,” Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said.

The jail authorities are alert and conducting tests as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, another official said.

A total of 1,184 convicts and around 5,500 under-trials were released last year under the department's decongestion drive amid the pandemic outbreak.

The vaccination process in the jails has already been started. Almost all jail staff and security personnel have received their jabs.

Around 20 inmates have received their first jab of COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccination drive for the prisoners started last week, officials added.

Delhi reported 813 coronavirus cases on Saturday. The active cases have risen to 3,409 from 3,165 a day ago. The positivity rate has also breached the 1 per cent-mark after over two months, according to official data.