No Covid-positive inmate, jail staff currently: Delhi prisons department

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (PTI) The Delhi prisons department currently has no inmate or jail staff who is COVID-19 positive, officials said on Sunday.

However, they said Covid-appropriate behaviour is still strictly being followed.

'Even though there is no case of the coronavirus infection in the prisons presently, the jail authorities are taking all the precautions. Covid-appropriate behaviour, including social distancing among the inmates, is being strictly followed. The new inmates are initially isolated and later shifted to the barracks,' Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said.

The prisons department launched a Covid vaccination drive for the inmates in the 45-plus age category on March 18, while the inoculation of the inmates in the 18-44 age group began on May 18.

As on Saturday, a total of 1,212 inmates above 45 years of age and 3,157 below 45 years of age in the Tihar jail were vaccinated against the viral disease. In the Rohini jail, 132 inmates above 45 years of age and 600 below 45 years of age have been administered the vaccine. In the Mandoli jail, 483 inmates aged above 45 years and 1,794 below 45 years of age have been vaccinated, according to data.

Since March, around 400 coronavirus cases have been reported among the inmates of the jails in the national capital and eight of them have succumbed to the disease. Among the prison staff members, over 200 have been infected with the virus since March.

Over 2,800 prisoners were released on interim bail or emergency parole from the three Delhi jails, including Tihar, to decongest the prisons during the second wave of the pandemic, officials had said.

These include the inmates who were released last year and then surrendered with no adverse report and also new prisoners who were eligible for such interim bail or emergency parole in view of the pandemic under the criteria laid down by a high-powered committee at its meetings held on May 4 and 11.

Last year, around 5,500 undertrial prisoners and 1,184 convicts were released on interim bail and emergency parole from the three Delhi jails -- Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli -- during the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the infection.

The first COVID-19 case was reported in the Rohini jail on May 13 last year. Two Covid-positive inmates of the Mandoli jail -- both senior citizens -- died on June 15 and July 4 last year.

Officials have said ever since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year, the prisons department has remained vigilant and instructed its staff to not only maintain hygiene and social distancing among themselves but also spread awareness about the infection among the inmates in the three jail complexes. PTI NIT RC

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