Bengaluru: Thirty undertrials lodged at Bengaluru Central Jail in Parappana Agrahara have tested positive for Covid-19, as have nine police personnel posted at the prison. This is the second outbreak of Covid-19 on the premises of the jail on the outskirts of the Karnataka capital within July — the first was reported 2 July and affected 20 prisoners and six jail staffers.
According to prison officials, the 39 fresh cases were diagnosed Sunday. They have now been shifted to different quarantine facilities.
While the male prisoners have been moved to the quarantine facility at Haj Bhavan in Thanisandra, the lone woman affected will recover at the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ashram. Both the Haj Bhavan and the Sri Sri ashram have been designated as quarantine centres by the Karnataka government.
The nine police personnel have been moved to a police Covid facility in the city.
Discussing the outbreak, jail officials said 150 undertrials were shifted to the central prison a fortnight ago. They were housed in separate barracks, in keeping with the Covid protocol, and not allowed to mingle with the other jail inmates, they added.
Jail superintendent V. Sheshamurthy said the 30 prisoners were screened when brought in two weeks ago but didn’t show any symptoms.
“All the prisoners were screened for Covid before they were brought in. However, in the following days, they began to show symptoms. We are doing all that we can to keep the premises safe,” Sheshamurthy added.
A jail official said they would test another 2,000 prisoners in the crowded facility.
The Bengaluru Central Jail, also known as the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison, is one of the state’s largest, with a capacity to hold close to 3,000 prisoners. However, the prison is believed to host close to 5,000 prisoners.
The Covid outbreaks on campus have triggered panic among inmates, but the jail authorities say they are trying their best to ensure safety protocols are followed stringently.
New inmates are screened thoroughly for cough and cold before they are shifted to the central jail, with another set of checks at the prison entry point. If the slightest symptoms are found, they are immediately shifted to the jail hospital to be tested for Covid-19, jail officials said.
All inmates have been asked to wash their hands regularly with soap, and keep their barracks and toilets clean and hygienic. The staff and inmates have been provided masks to be worn at all times. The number of visitors to the jail has also been reduced by 30 per cent, a senior jail official said.
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