In a major shock, at least 72 inmates and seven staff members of the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai have contracted coronavirus. Maharashtra jail authorities on Thursday said that all those found positive would be shifted to GT Hospital and St George hospital in guarded vehicles on Friday.
The inmates contracted the coronavirus after coming in contact with an infected cook, State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said. “These inmates will be quarantined with the help of the Mumbai civic body,” he said.
The first case came to light when a 45-year-old prisoner’s health deteriorated, and he was taken to hospital for treatment, and he was found positive in the coronavirus test. After this, samples of about 150 other prisoners and some security personnel, who came in contact with this prisoner, were collected.
Authorities said that steps are being taken to isolate those who have come in contact with those who have been infected. However, with social-distancing impossible due to overcrowding, concerns have arisen about the jail emerging as an infection hotspot.
Earlier, Maharashtra government had isolated eight prisons in the state, including the Arthur Road prison, and ordered that no new person will be allowed to enter inside, including jail staff, and nobody will be allowed to leave prison premises during the lockdown period.
Mumbai Arthur Road Jail shocker
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh also said that the state government has decided to release on parole some 5,000 prisoners who have been sentenced to less than seven years’ imprisonment, as a precaution and a measure to prevent the spread of the virus in jails.
Better known as Arthur Road jail, the Mumbai Central jail is one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country. Even though its capacity is 800 inmates, there are, at present, more than 2,500 prisoners in this jail.
Since April 4, complete lockdown is being followed at Arthur Road Jail under which neither new prisoners were being taken in nor was there any appearance in any court.
Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus patients in India at nearly 17,000. Nearly 3,100 people have been cured and discharged, while over 650 have died due to coronavirus.