44% Inmates in Guwahati Central Jail Test COVID-19+

Over 44 percent of the 984 prisoners in the Guwahati Central Jail, including peasant leader Akhil Gogoi and student activist Sharjeel Imam, have tested positive for COVID-19, informed a senior official.

The Gauhati High Court has ordered the Assam government to provide the best treatment to prisoners who have tested positive for COVID-19 after suo moto cognizance of the rising number of cases inside the jails.

Total 535 inmates have been infected by COVID-19 in 10 jails across the state, and of the highest 435 were from Guwahati, Assam Inspector General of Prisons Dasarath Das said while quoted by news agency PTI.

After creating a 200-bed COVID Care Centre (CCC) inside the Guwahati Central Jail to treat the asymptomatic patients, authorities are creating a second such facility inside the Nagaon Special Jail.

A total of 376 inmates of different jails, including 111 from the one in Guwahati, will be released in the next few days to decongest the prisons in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We have completed testing of all prisoners inside the Guwahati jail and found that 435 tested positive. Out of them, 197 have recovered and returned from the hospitals. On a state-wide level, we have detected 535 positive cases from 10 jails so far,” Das said.

The worst affected Guwahati Central Jail currently has 984 inmates against its capacity to house 1,000 prisoners, he added.

Das further stated that the CCC was set up inside the jail after three prisoners escaped from Sonapur Civil Hospital, of whom one has been re-arrested.

“The CCC in Guwahati jail is a 200-bed facility. It is being maintained jointly by the jail and health officials, while the NHM (National Health Mission) has provided doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. Their diets have also been improved as per THE COVID-19 guidelines,” stated Das

“Now, a second such CCC is being set up at the Special Jail of Nagaon, where already 54 inmates have tested positive. It is a joint initiative between the district administration, health officials, and jail authority. This will be ready within the next few days,” the IG said.

While peasant leader Akhil Gogoi is being treated at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Sharjeel Imam is recovering at CCC inside the Guwahati Central Jail. Both were arrested in cases related to protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

“We have released a total of 6,801 prisoners since March to decongest the jails. This includes 6,671 undertrials, who were released on bail and personal bonds. Out of these, 2,000 undertrials were released at one go in the initial period,” Das said.

Another 115, who are convicts, were allowed to go home on annual leaves, besides 15 more were released on parole, he added.

Every eligible convict gets 30 days of annual leaves for emergency purposes as per the rule.

Das said that a committee is being formed in every district to monitor the coronavirus condition and the security mechanism in the jails.

Talking about steps initiated to contain the spread of the deadly virus, Das said they are allowing a new inmate to go inside the jails only if he or she tests negative.

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