Five prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 in Uttarakhand’s Sitarganj jail in Udham Singh Nagar district, ringing alarm bells among the jail authorities here. This is the first case of inmates getting infected with the virus in Uttarakhand
“A medical team has been sent to the jail to find out the medical history of the inmates and trace the source of the virus. It is not known at present as to how the inmates contracted the virus,” said Dr Shailaja Bhatt, chief medical officer (CMO) Udham Singh Nagar district.
Sitarganj jail in Udham Singh Nagar district has 666 inmates against a capacity of around 300, said jail authorities.
DR Mourya, superintendent Sitarganj jail said they had taken random samples of 52 inmates for coronavirus testing and sent them to the health department on May 28.
“On Sunday, health department officials told us that five jail inmates have tested positive. As these five jail inmates were living in different barracks, samples of other inmates will also be sent for testing,” said Dr Mourya.
He added that fourteen other prisoners, who were in touch with the ones who have tested positive, have been put under quarantine in a ward and others including the jail guards and other jail authorities who came into contact with these prisoners will be tested for the disease.
PVK Prasad, inspector general (IG Jail) said more precautionary measures will be taken to ensure the virus doesn’t spread further inside the jail. He said it will be investigated as to how these jail inmates got infected with the virus.
“We are ensuring that social distancing is maintained in the jails. We will again take stock of the situation in the light of these positive cases from Sitarganj jail”, he added.
The incident has rung alarm bells among the jail authorities especially due to the overcrowding in some jails of the state. Overall, the state has around 5000 prisoners lodged in its 11 jails that have a capacity of around 3,600, said senior officials in the police department.
After first Coronavirus positive case was detected in the state on March 15, the jail authorities took measures like screening every visitor, sanitization of premises and use of masks and gloves by the jail staff.
According to the jail authorities, they had also banned meetings of inmates with their relatives in jails to ensure social distancing. The facility of e-meetings was started later allowing inmates to call their family members through video calling. Not just that, prisoners were also getting produced before courts through video conferencing following the directions given by Uttarakhand high court.