First death in Delhi jail prompts panel to or­der rapid test on all new en­trants

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - Richa Banka

NEW DELHI: A 62-year-old con­vict n Mandoli jail died of the coro­n­avirus dis­ease (Covid-19) on June 15, the first Covid death in city’s pris­ons, prompt­ing the high pow­ered com­mit­tee con­sti­tuted to de­con­gest the jails in Delhi to is­sue a slew of mea­sures, in­clud­ing con­duct­ing “rapid tests” on the new in­mates and in­stal­la­tion of oxy­gen con­cen­tra­tors at the jail hos­pi­tal, of­fi­cials said on Sun­day.

Di­rec­tor gen­eral (pris­ons) San­deep Goel in­formed the com­mit­tee about the death of the in­mate on Satur­day.

The com­mit­tee headed by Jus­tice Hima Kohli was told that 62-year-old Kan­war Singh passed away in his sleep. His Covid test came out pos­i­tive on Satur­day.

Kan­war Singh was serv­ing life im­pris­on­ment in a 2016 mur­der case reg­is­tered at the Aman Vi­har po­lice sta­tion and was sent to jail on July 6, 2018. Goel said he was shar­ing the jail cell with 28 other in­mates “who were do­ing fine”.

The com­mit­tee di­rected the of­fi­cials to test the 28 in­mates im­me­di­ately to prevent the spread of the dis­ease in the prison com­plex.

The DG (pris­ons) also in­formed the com­mit­tee that till Satur­day, 36 jail staffers and 20 pris­on­ers in Mandoli, Tihar and Ro­hini, the three pris­ons in Delhi, have been found Covid pos­i­tive.

The DG said that all Covid pos­i­tive jail staff were re­lieved of their du­ties and asked to re­main in home quar­an­tine, as all of them were asymp­to­matic.

He said all those who had come in their con­tact were also tested.

Goel said of the 36 jail staff who were found pos­i­tive (till June 20), seven have al­ready re­cov­ered and tested neg­a­tive. Only two of those jail staff re­quired hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, two are in in­sti­tu­tional quar­an­tine fa­cil­ity whereas the re­main­ing 25 are in home quar­an­tined, Goel said.

He also said that till Satur­day, 20 in­mates had tested pos­i­tive out of which 16 have re­cov­ered and one has died.

Fol­low­ing this, the com­mit­tee re­solved that new pris­on­ers be­tween 18 and 21 years of age be kept in iso­la­tion wards and asked the DG (pris­ons) and spe­cial sec­re­tary (home) of the Delhi gov­ern­ment to turn the 360 va­cant po­lice quar­ters, si­t­u­ated close to Mandoli jail, into a tem­po­rary jail to cre­ate iso­la­tion ward for new pris­on­ers and those who test pos­i­tive.

The com­mit­tee also said that all jail hos­pi­tals must be equipped with oxy­gen con­cen­tra­tors and two such ma­chines for each of the two jail hos­pi­tals must be pro­cured at the ear­li­est.

The com­mit­tee also sought to know about the avail­abil­ity of some other space which can be con­verted into a ‘tem­po­rary jail’.

DG (pris­ons) Goel stated that in con­sul­ta­tion with Delhi Po­lice, they have iden­ti­fied po­lice quar­ters in Mandoli are be­ing used as gov­ern­ment’s med­i­cal quar­an­tine fa­cil­ity for Covid pa­tients.

He said that they have spo­ken to the Delhi gov­ern­ment for mak­ing the quar­ters avail­able for mak­ing a tem­po­rary jail.

He in­formed that the quar­ters com­prises of 12 tow­ers with 30 flats each.

He said the flats can be used for hold­ing 1800 new in­mates.


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